Bentley Gallery Presents
IN ABSENCE OF COLOR
text and images courtesy of Bentley Gallery
Following its successful Color Spectrum show, Bentley Gallery presents In the Absence of Color as a counterpoint. In showing works by artists that use a monochrome palette, viewers are able to focus on elements such as composition, value, gesture, and form. Whether it’s a hard edge drawn with charcoal, a sprinkling of paint or built up residue from smoke, the restrained use of color becomes the unifying thesis.
Bentley Gallery invites you to view in person the endless subtlety of values found in black and the remarkable visual range of white. As color denotes fleeting fashion, black and white makes a bold classic statement that expresses timelessness. The variation of medium and technique from each artist is wide-ranging, however, the craftsmanship and conceptual insight are constant.
The ten participating artists are Brian David Griffith, Daniel Brice, Robert Kelly, Ricardo Mazal, Udo Nöger, George Thiewes, Jeremy Thomas, Denise Yaghmourian, Judith Foosaner and Chul Hyun Ahn.
BRYAN DAVID GRIFFITH
Bryan’s unconventional career began when he stumbled upon an abandoned, dog-eared copy of Henry Horenstein’s Black and White Photography: A Basic Manual and built a makeshift darkroom while studying engineering at the University of Michigan. After graduation he left engineering for big business, building a successful career with an international management consulting firm. However, Bryan found his job increasingly unfulfilling and his clients environmentally dubious. He ultimately resigned to follow his conscience. In order to pursue art full-time, he adopted a simple nomadic life, camping out and saving every dime for film and gas. When Bryan’s van broke down in Flagstaff, Arizona, he fell in love with the mountain town and has called it home ever since.
In his abstract paintings and prints, Daniel Brice explores both the physicality and the intellectual and emotional resonance of color. Based in sun-drenched Southern California, he translates the multi-hued blues of the bright Pacific Ocean and the lush reds, yellows, oranges, and greens of the local flora into the richly colored lines and rectangles that dominate his compositions. The surfaces of his paintings range from almost transparent to thickly worked and often stretch across multiple panels, lending an almost sculptural quality to his works. Brice works in layers, overlapping variously sized rectangular planes of color to create a constantly shifting visual field, a minimal rectilinear language implying vast spatial expanses.
Robert Kelly’s painted collages are anchored in a step-by-step process of formal puzzle composition and informed by decades of expert surface crafting. Having grown fond of the pared-down tools of line, form, and color, he juxtaposes these elements with items gathered during extensive travels. Antique botanical drawings, handwritten notes, small sketches and vintage signs come together as the ground for his works. Through meditative layering and edge-to-edge arrangements, his sensual surfaces, full of tension and exquisite junctions, expose histories of tactile decisions.
Judith Foosaner’s images are filled with biomorphic forms, plant accumulation and calligraphic marks, allowing the subtlety of line and shadow to aspire towards lyrical and rhythmic movements. Working exclusively in black, Foosaner creates expressive line drawings on paper, adding black paint throughout. She then slices and reassembles the drawings as collages on canvas. The resulting works capture a tension between gesture and geometry, hand and grid; swirling light and dark forms interrupted by thin pasted rectangles.
Above: Ricardo Mazal, Untitled 1 of 2, 2014, charcoal and graphite, on paper and canvas, 75.75 x 61 x 1.5″.
Ricardo Mazal explores themes of life, death, transformation and regeneration through a multidisciplinary approach to painting that combines photography and digital technology. In 2004 he embarked on a trilogy examining the sacred burial rituals of three cultures, continents and time periods. He began at the Mayan tomb of The Red Queen in Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico, then traveled to the Peace Forest cemetery in Odenwald, German and finally to the sky burials of Mount Kailash in western Tibet. Mazal works from the documentation of his travels, using photography as a bridge that links reality to abstraction.
Udo Nöger works in a minimalist tradition, reducing everything he does “to a point where there is no more, no less”— a statement that captures the delicate balance of his pared-down aesthetic. This quest toward a conscientious reduction of visual information, however, plays a supporting role to the artist’s primary interest: light. In his works, light passes through layers of oil, acrylic and fabric, illuminating the painting from within and then returning to the surrounding space. Through his singular approach and unique suite of mediums, Nöger is able to set the surface free and achieve the purest light possible.
In the fields of sculpture and drawing, George Thiewes creates sharp, angular work with a focus on the interaction of light and dark. That interest began in the 1990s while Thiewes was working on theatrical set designs where he had to learn to create the illusion of space through lighting. Thiewes’ sculptures are mounted on or in the wall and painted the same color as the gallery, making them hardly noticeable except for their cast shadows. The sculptures exist autonomously, while also defining and interacting with the surrounding space through their placement and the use of shadow. Thiewes explores shadow as a sculptural medium; specifically how the work changes throughout the course of a day as both the natural and artificial light change in intensity, temperature and direction. The angles created by light and shadow give the appearance of folds, an illusion that Thiewes also investigates in his drawings.
Denise Yaghmourian is a sculptor who works with paper pulp, wood, thread, vinyl and found objects. Her sculptural forms are rooted in a hybrid of past art movements and styles, yet they resonate with artistic concerns of today. Her handling of materials reference Minimalism and Post-Minimalism, as well as contemporary art making today. The simplicity of her surface veneers reveals a material-based sensibility. Conjoining the repetitive process inherent in machine-made items with laboriously repetitious handwork, Yaghmourian embraces the hypnotic and meditative inherent in both.
While Jeremy Thomas is happy to converse about theory and concept, he is most content thinking of himself as a maker of objects rather than an “artist”. It is the pragmatic that draws Thomas. Asked about his influences, he asserts that his primary influences do not come from the realm of art but rather from everyday living. “I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe art,” he comments. Thomas welds forms together which can be heated and injected with pressurized air, causing them to inflate and “grow” into their final shape. The final pieces contain paradoxes: metal molded by air, sensual forms in forceful fetish-finish primary colors gleaned from tractor manufacturers. These sculptures are changeable (as one continuously finds new approaches in their creases, angles, and wrinkles); they allow a dialogue between viewer and work.
Above: Chul Hyun Ahn, Mirror Drawing 730, 2015, plywood, LED lights, mirrors, 31.5 x 31.5 x 5.5″.
CHUL HYUN AHN
Chul Hyun Ahn’s mesmerizing sculptures speak to compositional issues of color and space, invoking the illusion of infinite space through the use of mirrors and light. Mining the territory of light and space artists including Peter Alexander, Robert Irwin and James Turrell, Ahn’s work suggests that space is possessed of its own verifiable presence, an altered and negotiated prescience and that within this expanded reality, one can determine a new way of seeing.
In The Absence of Color
May 17 – July 13
215 East Grant Street, Phoenix