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at The Dallas Contemporary
by Todd Camplin

What is the point of The Dallas Contemporary? Several years ago, I would have said it was to
display soul crushing, glitter filled, vacant expressions by people claiming to be artists. Other
times I would have said they were here to attract new people to visual art by inviting artists
that would alienate the established art scene. But somewhere along the way, things have
changed. I have changed as well. I see that the DC functions as a place that shakes things
up in Dallas. For good or ill, the DC takes some crazy risks, showing some popular and unknown
artists that are just bad or just plain amazing. The place seems to always invoke strong feelings
in me, so I am more alive because of what the DC does. The solo shows by Ambreen Butt, Keer
Tanchak, and Pia Camil are DC at its best.
© 2017  moderndallas.net all rights reserved.

In the small gallery, Keer Tanchak’s show first caused me to feel a little bewildered and confused.
These were odd little paintings on steel panels. The panels made the art look like she was hanging
the work on refrigerator doors like a parent might do for a child. However, after looking the whole
show over, I read the description on the wall. This compelled me to walk around the gallery again
for a second look. I am glad I did. When I read she was referring to Rococo painting, the work
opened up to me. What makes them even more contemporary is the fact that they seem to
look like Tanchak is representing a kind of underpainting of the period or a painting sketch.
I am still debating the panel choice, but I am on board with paintings.

Ambreen Butt. Installation view of What is left of me, 2017.
Photo by Kevin Todora
Pia Camil had an epic DC show of her own. Her installations were interactive, playful, colorful,
and just fun all around. She is the kind of artist that brings the average crowd of people, but
unlike some in the past, she doesn’t alienate the local art people. Camil’s content was
powerful with her critique of commodity chains. All those colorful shirts sewn together spoke
about globalization, mass production, graphic design, screen printing, etc, the list can go
on and on. Her other installed textiles referenced geometric minimalism and quilting. Camil
has a wonderful sense of formalism in these works, yet she celebrates the material as well
through draping and folds.

All three shows will be over on August 20th. And I hope those at the Dallas Contemporary can find
it in their hearts to forgive an old curmudgeon like myself when they cause me to have strong
feelings. After all, that is DC’s job and I breath easier for it.

Ambreen Butt. Installation view of What is left of me, 2017.
Keer Tanchak Celine, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist
Pia Camil Espectacular Tempestad, 2015.