May 25, 2007

“Collages from found paper scraps”

The 12 jewel-like collages in Margi Scharff's lovely exhibition at Overtones are snapshots from seven years of travel throughout Asia, composed not photographically but from the many scraps of paper she collected along the way.

The geographical specificity of each piece can be seen in the list of materials Scharff includes with each title on the checklist, such as this one from a piece called "Oh Deer Oh Dear": deer, tiger and lion off matchboxes found by the fruit and vegetable stand near the middle road to Dharamkot; cannon off a matchbox from the street by the Prince Polonia in Paharganj district of New Delhi; floral paper off kites found on the steps of the ghats in Varanasi; Hindi crossword from the Times of India.

The pleasure of the work lies in the tremendous care with which it was made.

Each piece involves hundreds of tiny cut or torn pieces, painstakingly arranged in countless layers.

The most elegant are mandala-like, with compact, centralized designs; others resemble diagrams or maps.

Two additional pieces take the form of long, many-jointed snakes. With a rich variety of color and texture — Scharff has a marvelous eye — they convey a lush and memorable sense of place. You can almost smell the street vendors.

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