Clean
Michael Oman-Reagan
Nil Contemporary Art, 221-3182
Through Dec 31

Michael Oman-Reagan's recent exhibit Clean introduces a new element to his usually minimalist tendencies. Surfacing from a thin, pale pool of gesso, white-out, and shellac, traced silhouettes emerge. Within the whitish ground, black marker constructs fragmented portraits. With a bulk of the exhibit, Oman-Reagan makes a relatively straight-forward attempt at tracing the facial expressions of separate individuals, namely "Adam," "Sean," etc. While these works have an interesting surface quality, the power of the exhibit lies in work that goes a bit further.

In the piece entitled "MOR & Muriel" Oman-Reagan utilizes his usual approach with materials, but chooses to highlight the posture of individuals, rather than specific facial expressions. Through Oman-Reagan's quick hand, faceless figures garner individuality.

Amidst a flat scene of white pigment and pale shellac, two figures stand, subtly rendered in their black line poses. The male and female subjects stand just slightly confrontational. With only a few clues provided, the viewer begins to formulate personalities within the simple silhouettes. For example, lines suggest that the female figure is dressed in a casual skirt and T-shirt. Sunglasses on top of her head accentuate her cool posture; her weight is shifted comfortably, she seems relaxed and in conversation. The man is dressed in cut off shorts, a T-shirt, and a sports a backpack. His head is tilted slightly back and his lips are pursed. He seems pensive, as if he is listening.

The possibility for all of these inferences is amazing, with the simplicity of the lines given. Oman-Reagan gives just enough detail for the viewer to wonder about his subjects, but not know them readily. He adds two other curious details to the piece that cements its intrigue. First, he places a patch of red pigment on the upper arm of each figure.

Second, on top of each figure's head, detailed in black ink, he affixes a second layer. In blue pencil on nearly transparent paper, Oman-Reagan layers a mirror image of the drawn head. The effect presents a duality; each figure is simultaneously looking towards and away from the other person. Through relatively simple means, he has presented the complex issue of the physical and emotional space between beings.