Keith Tilford

Keith Tilford's wildly energetic pen-and-ink drawings look as though they've drawn themselves—as if the ink has a life of its own, the product of some kind of possessed Etch- A-Sketch. Frenzied is the word that comes to mind. Yet clearly Tilford is in control of his pen. In his new series of drawings, he has taken images of crowds from the Internet and both deconstructed and exploded them into wild swarms of hook-shaped squiggles. Images of people coagulate from these microscopic life forms and mysterious script. The kinetic quality of his quick, deft strokes reflects the ever-changing energy and definition of a group of people. Tilford explains: "What remains is the uncertainty of the face—an uncertainty as to whether it is coming together or breaking apart." These portraits are teeming with this uncertainty of direction. They capture the blur and spark of energy as people merge and then pull away from a crowd. Tilford's individual portraits are more intensely focused than the crowd scenes, which sometimes turn into nebulae, reflecting how people lose their identities in crowds and regain them more clearly as individuals. All of the pictures are named Untitled, which may be another existentialist comment on the fluidity of identity. This is the recent Cornish Art grad's second solo show at James Harris, following his impressive debut in 2004. All interpretation aside, the pure intensity of his penwork is fascinating. James Harris, 309A Third Ave. S., 206-903-6220, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Sat. Ends April 1. SUE PETERS

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