This past Saturday saw another great opening night at Tempus Projects, the stalwart Seminole Heights gallery space. As they have for a little over a year, Tempus offers two shows in one, with the
Darkness Invisible group show in the main Tempus space and Anthony Record’s Slime Dune in the Quaid collective’s sub-gallery. The night was rollicking and the work on both sides is excellent and challenging.
Not content with being the best private contemporary art gallery in Tampa, Tempus also throws a great party. Saturday’s crowd of adventurous minds was well-lubricated with beer courtesy of the Mermaid Tavern, and amazing rum-coffee cocktails from the Commune + Co. coffee bike. Someone even got their Banksy on, hanging one of their own pieces in Darkness Invisible and then dashing. Tempus may not be the Met, but that someone would pull a stunt like that is a nice testament to the space's local status (if not to the vandal’s creativity).
So, the art. Slime Dune is mostly an evolution of Anthony Record’s recent work with textured and sculptural canvasses, with an overall vibe that’s a little snarky and palpably internet-influenced. The works are populated with amoebic cutouts, and painted in hard, flat abstract patterns in colors ranging from intentionally garish to more subdued. For this show, Record adds two twists to the formula, the first being a few larger pieces with foamy worms winding through and around the welter of colors and shapes. The added motion and tension is great, though Record has actually expressed reservations about story and narrative in art.
The best pieces in Slime Dune, though, are smaller compositions layering smears of bright texture over abstract collage backgrounds. They’re more dynamically composed than the rest of the work, and it would be great to see them grow into larger formats.
Across the hall, Darkness Invisible is a high-concept show dealing, very loosely, with the problems of representing people, evil, and, maybe, evil people. Its touchstone is the very creepy Victorian trend of “hidden mother” portraits.
The show does a great job of putting local artists in conversation with national names, and mostly hangs together conceptually. Gigi Lage’s smeary prints give the selfie a haunting makeover, while USF prof Noelle Mason pushes some boundaries on the topic of what you can get away with hiding where.
Longtime Tempus favorite (and big national name) Trenton Doyle Hancock contributes what at first glance looks like an art-world cliché — four small, totally black canvasses. But tilt your head just slightly, and you’ll see free-flowing black-on-black embossing of the title phrase, "Wow That’s Mean." It’s an interesting play on the idea of human darkness, though maybe not among Hancock’s most definitive work.
The show’s highlight, though, is definitely Langdon Graves’ "Scarlatina," a Lynchian installation of hallucinatory wallpaper and a single menacingly drippy glove. It’s the best encapsulation of the show’s central idea — that what’s missing can be far more important than what’s present.
Both shows will be open for viewing again this Friday, April 3, for First Friday Seminole Heights, and the gallery always throws at least one additional viewing event per show. You can keep an eye out at Tempus’ Facebook page. The gallery is located at 4636 N. Florida Ave., Tampa.