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Jeremy Holmes "A Ribbon of Flight and Grace"

May 30, 2019 - Cate Mcquaid for The Boston Globe

Jeremy Holmes spent 2½ days earlier this month unspooling a coil of hardwood to fill the size of a gallery. It arcs down from the ceiling, ricochets off the walls, scoops up off the floor, and dances in great loops about the room.

You may ask: A coil of hardwood? Indeed. Holmes works with hardwood veneer — cherry, in the case of his exuberant installation at Lanoue Gallery. He soaks the thin planks in water to soften them up. The artist bends the sodden planks and clamps them until the moisture seeps out and the wood holds its form.

He attached the ones in this untitled piece end to end, and packaged them in a coil ready to unfurl and suspend from the ceiling with nearly invisible microfilaments. It’s a loose, ribbony tangle, lolling yet energetic. Standing in the middle of it, I felt elated and at ease, as if there were no hard angles in life, no weight of gravity. Just flight and grace.

The piece fills a space that used to be Kabinett’s main gallery, and Samson’s before that. Lanoue has now annexed it, and mounted this unusually ambitious installation for a local commercial gallery.

Holmes’s smaller wall and pedestal works are on view in Lanoue’s central space. They’re all closed loops of curled hardwood — a rooted, stubborn material that the artist appears to at once tame and liberate. Most are naked wood, but sometimes he paints one side, imbuing the in-and-out folds with more percussive rhythm.

His symmetrical pieces are too tamed, too pretty, like giftwrap bows. I prefer the unpredictable lines of asymmetrical works such as the white ash “Untitled (Horizontal Blue),” painted with Aegean blue. It takes a deep dive at the center, then thrusts jazzily to the right like a Bob Fosse dancer.

For his most recent pieces, “Broaden” and “Expansive,” Holmes sculpts wider planks, roughly 10 or 11 inches across. They are even more challenging to manipulate. Yet they feel generous and substantive, their curves a great embrace. Like lasagna noodles rather than tagliatelle, you know they will hold more sauce.

JEREMY HOLMES: HARDWOODS

At Lanoue Gallery, 450 Harrison Ave., through June 16. 617-262-4400, www.lanouegallery.com


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