Zeitgeist | September 2 through October 28
WORDS Catherine Randall Berresheim
The upcoming exhibit at Zeitgeist not only plays to this gallery’s mission to host local and world-class artists alike, this fall season’s pairing also highlights truly cutting-edge experimentation.
Featured painters Alex Blau and Lain York’s collections are a perfect example of the innovation that springs from risk. Each artist’s exhibited work challenges tradition. Indeed these paintings are a study in dualities— the opposing and complementary ventures in design, form, pattern, and mediums.
Both artists explore the vibrational rhythm of line. “It’s about getting back to gesture drawing,” York says. Blau is exploiting the contrast between stark, almost-artificial color and sharp, repeating lines.
Blau’s collection Night Swimming demonstrates her obsession with geometric shape and pattern. The painting Are We There Yet? is composed with the uncommon material choice of automotive airbrush paint. Smoky mists of magenta smear into yellow as they bleed into each other and then are suddenly cut diagonally with stencils made of adhesive auto-detailing tape. “I manipulate the tape to mask out a section and then spray,” Blau says. The depths she creates fascinate her. “I see shadows of layers, see how they float slightly,” she says as she points out the optical illusion. Blau even coined her own phrase to describe the technique: “mis-registration.”
All the paintings create abstract layers where even the same blue becomes tones of itself. Bold boomerangs or swirls of candy-colored ribbons focus the eye or pull the perspective ever deeper. A clear topcoat only accentuates the design. The series is a complete departure from her earlier work of small, meticulously crafted textile design in quilt-like patterns.
Lain York’s Ghost collection is part painting and part sculpture. The plywood birch wood surface is not only the canvas that holds the “paint”—the wood-grain pattern acts as a topographic map that becomes the amber backdrop for his flowers and bees. Nine uniform, shallow boxes with three-inch-deep profiles hold calligraphy-like strokes of white. The medium is not paint, however; it is actually correction tape. Yes, the kind you get at Office Depot to erase your typos.
“I wanted to find the simplest and the most immediate mediums I could and use them in the same manner,” York says. He likes the unpredictable nature of his medium, the quality of the broken line, and the way he has to wrestle with this tool to follow his sketch. “Eradicating the lines almost activates them,” York explains. Indeed the eye is drawn to the interruptions.
Although the birch wood is soft and easy to carve, he, like Blau, has departed from his previous work, which combines layers of taped lines, intricate carvings, and the graphite gesture drawings to the minimalistic version in this collection.
The narrative is what’s important here: “The idea is one might pair a bee with the flower, addressing the symbiotic association between them.”
The exhibit at Zeitgeist opens September 2 and runs through October 28. For more information, visit www.zeitgeist-art.com.