Waltercio Caldas at Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica
Much like writing, art takes many forms. The genres of writing have their parallels in art too. Take for instance Memoir (Nan Goldin), Pulp Fiction (Marilyn Minter), Romance (Henri Matisse), Social Non-fiction (Sebastiao Salgado), Biography (Alex Katz) to name but a few highly selective and deeply subjective pairings. But in both the art and the literary worlds I know precious few admirers of poetry. For me, poetry is the balm to which I turn and return in moments of white noise distraction. So it was with unexpected delight that I encountered for the first time the work of Brazilian artist Waltercio Caldas. The exhibition currently on view at Christopher Grimes Gallery in Santa Monica has the effect of wiping the slate clean, of starting over, of being able to focus rather than constantly scan.
Caldas is a consummate craftsman presenting sculptures, mixed media “drawings” and installations in materials that include yarn, stainless steel granite and fiber board. Caldas choreographs these materials in planes, lines, arcs and volumes that dialogue in whispers rather than shouts. If my admiration is taking a reverential tone, it’s because I believe the work needs to be savoured and its pleasures need to be listen to.
A dozen works inhabit Grimes’ skylighted exhibition space but the one that struck me in the back gallery is titled A Greek Day, 2010. Comprised of welded and highly polished stainless steel in bifurcated arcs and right angles, a rectangle of flat blue paint applied to the wall with anonymous precision and two strands of cobalt blue wool yarn, hanging at gravity’s discretion from the ceiling. From a reductionist point of view, it encapsulates all that is right with the world. The interaction of form, line, implied volume /weight, and shadow/ light. Move around the gallery and the relationship of each element changes to the others. The tactile contrast between the reflective immutability of the steel and the light absorbing fuzziness of the wool. The reflected blue in the mirror like surface of the steel. Well, they can send you into a rapture of sorts…if you listen. This is not an art that leads you by the nose down to desired destinations. But neither is it an art that alienates and shuns attention and inquiry. It is an art of poetry. It is an art of detail appreciated, movement delineated and form articulated.
To say that words do seem inadequate to the experience is obvious. Words can however describe the pleasure. And there are plenty. Enter the gallery and let the miasma recede. Listen with your eyes. The poetry is ripe and right of the picking.
Through April 24th, 2010
916 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Photographs Courtesy Christopher Grimes Gallery
Thanks also to Mr. Grimes for a most illuminating and enthusiastic chat last week.
Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, April 24th, 2010