When the pandemic forced the Lesley Heller Gallery to permanently shutter this spring, after 25 years of existence, the exhibition that closed with it, unseen, was Dana Melamed’s Natural Suspension. Looking at images of the artwork meant to have been displayed, the irony of their apocalyptic vision is palpable. A series of drawings from 2018 use acrylic, ink and clay to fill sheets of paper with brutal, sprawling tangles at once arboreal and human, as if mammoth thorny brambles were also diseased lungs, flayed flesh and spindly bones. Ochre washes add an earthy dimensionality, a breath of aliveness, though not necessarily a human one. Three small sculptures, carved from cholla wood, weave endless stairways around dry and leafless trees, dense with shaggy bark. Their bareness disheartens, but in being foreboding they are not unmagical. The ills of nature entwine with the illnesses of humanity, and we are all now suspended.
—Lori Waxman 2020-12-02 1:15 PM