St. Louis Post-Dispatch
March 16, 1995
POST (S)CRIPTUM: MIXED MEDIA WORKS BY NANCY EXARHU
By Carol Ferring Shepley
Ten small works hanging in the Left Bank Books' exhibition
space explore the concept of writing itself, of that which is beyond
writing and of the afterthought.
In short, the subject is the post script or Post (S)criptum,
as artist Nancy Exarhu self-consciously titles her show, perhaps
in an attempt to draw upon the homonym "crypt" and thus
pull in a reference to death and the passage of time.
The works are covered in layers of cursive, some of
which appears to be writing in the Greek alphabet and the rest of
which seems so scribbled that the meaning is equally beyond interpretation.
Thus the writing becomes both a thing and a pictorial element and
not a device to convey meaning.
The artist makes us think about what happens in our
minds in the presence of the written word; about how important it
is to us; and about how text surrounds us rather than having us
focus on the conventional meaning of each word and sentence. In
some cases, the writing is scratched in white against a black ground
so that negative space or nothingness carries the message.
Their philosophical meaning aside, Exarhu's pictures
are lovely. Heavily worked pastel surfaces have an atmospheric quality.
The artist adds paint and then removes it, both by rubbing it off
and by scratching writing into it.
Collages of old photographs and schematic drawings
of architectural elements and the signs of the zodiac are pasted
into layers of paint. Although Exarhu's works contain many recognizable
details, they seem to be just parts of a pictorial whole rather
than significant in and of themselves.
These mixed media pieces read more like objects than
images. They recall old walls in Mediterranean villages where posters
are pasted, partly torn away and then skim coated over with more
Thus, they seem to represent time passing and layer
upon layer of meaning. They practically have a patina of age.
As carefully worked and reworked as these images are, they have
a precious quality. While their delicate colors and veils of atmospheric
effect are quite pleasing to the eye, they lack boldness. And their
very prettiness can distract from the concept Exarhu attempts to
spin out layer upon layer, hoping to come up oyster-like with a
pearl but sometimes only rendering mother of pearl surfaces.
Copyright 1995 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Record Number: 9503150404