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Mini TruffleHunting-Wall Installations at Griffin Contemporary

July 28, 2010
Blazing Sun and Summer Sunset

Sometimes seeking out good art must be done on the fly. Say, you have an errand or two to run and instead of hitting the Ralph’s on Wilshire you decide to go to the one on Olympic and that way, well you’ll pass right be Griffin Contemporary and you pop in. It’s like playing hooky from life’s essentials in search for a dose of aesthetic inspiration.
Such was the methodology I used to trick myself into an artistic infusion. And the rewards were grand.

Wall Installations assembles 8 artists who practice mural scaled work mostly in a 2 dimensional form. Three pieces resonate well beyond the initial gallery encounter.

Richard Long

My love for and admiration of Richard Long’s thoughtful and tactile artwork is over 25 years old. Perhaps my first encounter with his sculpture was at the Museum Abteiberg Mochengladbach in Germany in 1982. On Permanent display is a serene square room with 8 gray paintings by Gerhard Richter on the walls and a slate circle dead center by Mr. Long. It is nothing short of sublime and rivals the Rothko Chapel for serenity, contemplative focus and spirituality. In addition to stone, wood, and chalk floor pieces, Long has practiced a concrete poetry of sorts placing large text on walls describing walks that he takes, their duration, time of year and date. The walks themselves are often marathon affairs in length and duration so the couple of sentences that appear are mere indexes to action taken. At Griffin there appears these few words

Walking from a Full Moon to a New Moon.

14 Days of Waning Moonlight in the Sierra Nevada Spain 2009

The first line in a light blue and the second in Black. The sans-serif type style, wall placement and sparse verbage have become like seeing any title sequence from a Woody Allen movie, It’s a brand! And I guess much like Allen it’s an acquired taste. What I acquired a long time ago, and continue to revel in each time I see his work, is a sense of landscape painting. What gets me is that this is an art of evocation and not illustration. The image is conjured in each viewer’s mind, a unique piece for each observer, all derived from a single catalyst. Richard, you had me at Hello!

Karin Sander (Seen from an Oblique Angle)

The second piece of note is less cerebral and more optical. Karin Sander is a polymath practising sculpture, photography and conceptual art with equal abandon. Interestingly enough my first encounter also was at the Museum Abteiberg where I found a wall text identifying a piece called Circle by Karin Sander. But there was no piece. Or at least none that was perceptible. I passed by without thinking too much about it. Later in the visit I passed by again and the light had changed and I remember passing left to right this time. There it was, a reflective circle directly on the wall. I later found out that the circle was created by burnishing the regular matte wall paint the museum used with an agate stone, thereby by polishing a reflective surface into being. Cool! The piece at Griffin is a rectangle of gloss on a matte, gallery wall but this one is created with a thin layer of lacquer. The whispering quality of discovery is still there but the transformative element of methodology is absent. Karin Sander it should be noted is the Grand Daughter of the famed photographer August Sander who basically documented all of German society from 1910 to 1936. For all intents and purposes he created the photographic imperative of the typology.

Peter Wegner-Blazing Sun and Summer Sunset

The third piece that moved me was a wall painting by Peter Wegner. In direct opposition to the British reserve of Long and the German cerebral stoicism of Sander comes the distinctively American Wegner with a simple and yet far from simplistic word and optical painting. Riffing on commercially available paint samples with ludicrously effusive names, Wegner has painted Summer Sunset low to the floor and Blazing Sun high in the apex of the cathedral-like ceiling. The premise is clear, almost blatant but the effect is both humorous and subtle. The red color of Summer Sunset reflects in the gallery’s polished cement floor, much like the setting sun would over the pacific. And upon high, Blazing Sun reflects its warm glow on the girders of the ceiling joists.

Much like Orange is both a fruit and a color, Sun is not only our source of light, a color distinct with time of day but also an emotion. The premise then is cool and dispassionate but the effect is warm and evocative.

I’m pleased to offer these links for the three discussed artists, each of whom have terrific individual professional websites that detail the course of their artistic investigations:

Richard Long

Karin Sander

Peter Wegner

Griffin Contemporary-Wall Installations continues through August 14th, 2010 in Santa Monica

(Photos for this post by Mario M. Muller, used with gracious permission by Griffin Contemporary.)


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