Stephen Hilyard King Wave November 16 to December 30, 2006
Stephen Hilyard’s most recent work, King Wave, references the real world but does not depict it. Using photography as raw material, the artist employs digital manipulation to contrast divergent approaches to death, and in the process challenges notions of authenticity. On the surface Stephen Hilyard’s photographic depictions of rearing waves and skies full of portent recall nineteenth century paintings of the sublime. Stranger things are brewing below. It is the stuff of legends: thirty-foot crocodiles in the sewers of New York, giant squids pulling sailors overboard and great white sharks decimating townsfolk. Bodies of water have long acted as a melting pot for human anxiety. Sigmund Freud used an iceberg protruding from the water as metaphor for consciousness, while the vast water surrounding it represented the unconsciousness made up of unacknowledged fears. To past monsters – real and imagined – can be added one more: The King Wave. King Waves are freak waves, enormous walls of water that seemingly come from out of the blue. For many years considered fictitious, these rogue waves have recently gained scientific credibility. One theory suggests that they steal energy from neighboring swells to produce near-vertical walls of water as high as one hundred feet and capable of sinking seafaring freighters. Hilyard’s King Wave series considers the mythologies surrounding death with images that beguile the mind and defy logic.
Works by Marc Dombrosky, John Jenkins III, Patte Loper, William Powhida, Nicola Vruwink, Wayne White, and Will Yackulic. Throughout history, there has been in the visual arts a tradition of combining text and art. Medieval written manuscripts in Christian Europe were interlaced with pictures which helped to create layered meaning. The 18th-century poet William Blake published his writings with his own illustrations resulting in a syntheses beyond one or the other alone. Dadists and Surrealists in the early 20th century combined fragments of found text and appropriated images to open new paths and the Futurists’ use of innovative typography exemplified their belief in the expressivity of language. From the 1960’s to the present artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, Ed Ruscha, Ree Morton, Vernon Fisher, Kay Rosen, On Kawara, Duane Michals, Jenny Holzer, Lorna Simpson all have woven visual images and verbal symbols together with great force. This exhibition explored the variety of ways contemporary artists look critically at cultural narratives through the use of language in their art. This work is at an intersection between personal and political worlds which demonstrates what it feels like to be in this world at this time and goes beyond the way we commonly use or view both language and art.
According to author Leonard Shlain in his book Art & Physics, "Blindsight" is the ability to see or visualize that which is physically impossible to see. Jaq Chartier’s work is a manifestation of mental abstract images which she intuits and then coaxes out of the surface of her panels. For the last several years, Chartier has been employing strategies of exploration, process, and rigorous testing in the creation of her luminous paintings. Her work captures the unseen moment of the creative process, the crack between cause and effect, space and time. She says, “I have a sense of where to go with my work that isn't direct, isn't visible until the paintings emerge. I bury colors under whiteness, setting up little tests which induce the stains to reestablish themselves in ways that reveal their hidden nature. It's like feeling my way through a white fog and hoping for something unexpected to come into focus.”
Chartier embraces aspects of Modernism that hold resonance for her, such as Minimalism’s exploration of how repetition can both embody and dissolve content. However, the essence of Chartier's painting is color. The works in this exhibition are all color charts of one sort or another. “I’ve been very focused specifically on painting my whole life, and at a certain point I had learned enough about the materiality of traditional artist’s paints and pigments--what each color looks like and what it does in relation to other colors, how they mix together, how they dry, and so on. The whole point of knowing pigments is ‘predictability.’ But now I'm working with stains which have a tremendous range in the possible ways they interact with each other and with the other materials, and even with light and time. It's much more complicated, and every day I'm learning something about the materials as well as about a particular piece.”
Chartier's work has been shown nationally and internationally in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Toronto, and this fall in Ahlen, Germany. Her work was also included in the travelling exhibition Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics, which was organized by the Henry Gallery of Art, Seattle; and the solo show "Testing" at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Unnatural Presence June 22 to July 29, 2006
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Unnatural Presence included the sculptural work of artists who incorporate visions and interpretations of the natural world in unnatural ways, while confronting the unnatural world in natural ways. Some of these sculptures explicitly reference the nature of animals, while others the nature of materials; all navigate the terrain of the nature of space and its occupation.
Individually, these artists create work of significant presence through the brash insertion of created objects into a given space. Taken together the collection of these pieces seeks to shift our habits of looking at sculpture to an unstable field in order to question received ideas of materiality, space, narrative, and ultimately the nature of the unnatural; in other words the very essence of contemporary sculpture itself. Eric Eley holds an MFA from the University of Washington and his work has been exhibited in Seattle, Spokane, and Pennsylvania. He had solo show at Gallery4Culture in Seattle in 2007. Rachel Lowther was born in England and lives in Brooklyn, She has shown nationally and internationally including Berlin, Melbourne, London and New York. Christian Maychack lives in San Francisco and his work was included in the 2007 California Biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art. Melissa Pokorny's sculptures are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Oakland Museum of California, and the Orange County Museum. She holds an MFA from the University of California, Davis. Jon Rajkovich’s sculptures have been included in shows in New York, Florida, South Carolina and Ontario.
Patte Loper investigated what it means to take a fleeting cultural moment, such as a film still or a photo from a magazine article and slow it down, analyze it, render it carefully, and to ultimately make it her own. The work is a meditation on various forms of expression and the compression and expansion of time.
Patte’s work has been exhibited in California, New York, Boston, and in Seattle, including the 2001 and 2002 Northwest Annuals. She holds an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. She is currently living in New York and teaching at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Brooklyn’s William Powhida returned to Platform Gallery for a solo show of his observations of the world and art criticism in graphic form. Through trompe l’ oeil painting and drawings on paper that emulate notes, letters, enemies lists, rants, to-do lists, Powhida's multiple artistic personalities goad, cajole, critique, insult, complain, and articulate life as a contemporary artist in a market-driven economy. James Kalm, writing about Powhida's work in NY Arts Magazine observed, “In the psuedo anonymous state of his various persona, Powhida, as if wearing a mask, is free to address and critique anyone and anything without consequence, like the psycho killers who blame their crimes on a supressed alter ego; ‘Bad Billy made me do it.’ ”
William Powhida holds an MFA from Hunter College and has exhibited at Dam Stuhltrager in New York, Artspace in New Haven and in the 2004 Paperworks group show at Platform.
Matt Sellars Diaphaneity February 16 to March 25, 2006
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In this exhibit Matt Sellars' sculptural work reminded us that memories can often become as thin and ephemeral as a vanishing barn. Just as light pours through an old barn's bare slats, memory itself often becomes diaphanous and everything but the most pertinent information falls away.
All the works in this exhibit referenced various stages of life: youth and vitality, age and decrepitude, hope and the guarantees against an uncertain future, all with a mixture of humor and sadness. Their forms, which have become an essential element in Sellars’ visual language, come from his memories of the rural landscape of his youth. Agriculture as a way of life is very tenuous, especially with the advent of large corporate farming and the squeeze on small family-owned farms. Sellars marvels at the tenacity of people who work these small farms and wonders at their ability to survive the many variables working against them. Ultimately, the works in this exhibit evoke the greater joys and struggles of life.
build January 5 to February 11, 2006
Conceptual explorations of archtitectural space through sculpture, photography, and drawing. Lucas Kelly’s drawings are made up of a very complex system of simple forms based on gallows, storage containers, coffins, and billboards with exaggerated perspectives. All the elements in his work build upon themselves to make a possible blueprint for an impossible architectural structure. At the base of the drawing is a series of boxes, creating a grid upon which larger objects all pile on top of each other, sharing supports to create a singular object on the page. Kelly then erases most of the drawing leaving behind the faint impression of (im)possibility. Kelly’s work was on exhibition in New York in “Painted World” at P.S. 1. In the work of San Francisco-based artist Will Yackulic, a network of text and buildings forms the constituents of a post-natural landscape. Yackulic’s “It Takes Ice to Cut Ice” is a series of gouache paintings on paper; each composition is constructed of small, blue and white cubes that make up the building blocks of a digital, imagined architecture. Yackulic’s geometric topographies on paper, sprinkled with background text, demonstrate how complicated forms and ideas can arise from rudimentary materials. Yackulic exhibits with Gregory Lind Gallery in San Francisco. Sebastian Lemm is a photo-based artist working to uncover what is not immediately visible. Inpiration for his imagery comes from popular theories of physics: for example the string theory which describes the existance of multiple dimensions and parallel universes outside of our perception. Lemm describes his “traveler II” series as “a meditation of parallel worlds and the boundaries between them. These images of similar topographies, separated by an almost imperceptible barrier, allude to connections that exist within a collective whole.” Lemm has exhibited his work in several group shows in the US and Germany.