New York Times

Art in Review  
April 21st, 2006
Siobhan Liddell: Liminal


Liminal — or barely perceptible — describes the ephemeral sculptures and installations for which the British artist Siobhan Liddell is best known. But as the title of her third solo show in New York, the word seems mostly out of place: the works are mostly perceivable, portable and saleable. 

It may be inevitable that Ms. Liddell, who hasn’t had an exhibition here since 2002, is moving toward more permanent forms of expression. Her interest in cut paper has evolved into large canvases textured with little pieces of semi-attached painted paper cut in leaf and petal shapes. They create dense, furlike swirls in a large black piece titled “Pitch Black Ignorance,” whose title is contradicted by the white undersides of the paper pieces, which are visible from certain angles. The more dispersed composition of “Array,” which suggests a weather system, is accomplished with white paper painted on the reverse, creating glowing hints of blue and fluorescent orange that become dominant when the work is viewed from the side.

More characteristically liminal is a piece made of 253 clear plastic push pins that spell its title, “False Sense of Security,” across two walls. Ms. Liddell pursues her interest in textures and repetition in several small, circular wall pieces in unglazed ceramic. One resembles a crown, which seems related to a small, free-standing clay sculpture of a unicorn reclining on a mound of leaves, as well as to a bright embroidery of a dragon on view in the gallery office that is in many ways the exhibition’s high point. 

It is a major problem that much of the work here could have been seen in a gallery at any time over the last 35 years. Still, this is a weirdly risky, up-for-grabs show. Longer on promise than on delivery, at least it makes you want to know what will come next.