By Leah Ollman, Special to The Times
August 30, 2008
Josh Dorman’s show at the Craft and Folk Art Museum opens with a warning, but not the usual sober sign you see at the entrance to certain exhibitions, aiming to shelter the unprepared from “inappropriate” content.
The notice, painted in sprightly letters on a plum-colored wall, alerts visitors that viewing Dorman’s collaged paintings may cause them to experience instability or dislocation. They might lose track of scale, gravity, time. “While clear answers may or may not reveal themselves,” the wall text declares, “the loose logic of a dream state will surely reveal much truth.”
Most of the work in “Within Four Miles: The World of Josh Dorman” is based on old topographical maps that the artist has cut out and collaged onto panels or canvas, drawn into and painted over. Typically, maps offer certitude and a clear sense of positional relationships. Dorman’s versions shed the anchors of rational order. They trade scientific method for poetic instinct. In finding a new use for old materials, Dorman has also resuscitated an obsolete definition of the word “map”: “to bewilder.”