EST ARS VITAE at Poem88
Carl Honoré lays out the heart of the Slow Movement in his book In Praise of Slowness like this: “Be fast when it makes sense to be fast, and be slow when slowness is called for. Seek to live at what musicians call the tempo giusto — the right speed.” Poem 88’s show EST ARS VITAE (Latin for “the art of life”), fits neatly with this concept of finding an appropriate tempo to maximize quality. At the root of this exhibition is an invitation to slowly contemplate small natural forms in detail-saturated images.
Sean Abrahams’ black and white stippled “Inky Freakout 3” is the sort of drawing that I could look at forever. The psychedelic landscape has a push and pull of positive and negative space typical of optical illusions. Similarly playing with positive and negative space is Zuzka Vaclavik’s painting “HWY A1A.” The painting’s history of built-up texture achieved through a multitude of layers, underneath meticulously taped-off flat color. In a different way, Mike Goodlett achieves this contradiction of form in “untitled (sculpture).” It has the plush appearance of a soft textile work, cast in pastel toned Hydro-Stone plaster.
What makes all of the work in EST ARS VITAE so visually appealing, and why it feels so slow, is a result of marathon level of dedication to the image. At the opening, Vaclavik revealed that it took a year to finish the painting, working 30 hours a week on it. Hannah Adair estimated the total time spent on her three works at around 240 hours. Rejecting the cult of speed in favor of a felt circadian clock marked by seasons has paid off with dividends with beautifully fertile work.