Archive for December, 2010

CHRIS DAUBERT AS SHAMAN

Posted by erin on December 27th, 2010

Transfiguration:  Daubert’s Electronic Audio and Visual Installation at the Blue Line Gallery in Roseville, CA.

by Janet Norris

Chris Daubert traveled to Mexico a few years ago, perhaps on a mission of self-discovery, or, to pursue the wider goal of finding a method of understanding the “way” of life.  Maybe it was merely his vacation, but he relates that he stumbled upon a ruin in the hinterlands a few miles distant from Durango, Mexico, that obviously had not been recently visited.  He described to me his experience of watching the sun move over the top the crumbling walls, the effect on him which was to understand (have a realization in the philosophical/mystical sense) what it must have been like for the shamans who had once been responsible for the well-being of the local populace:  The ancient religious guides, transfigured by the “message” deployed through the energy of the sun, read the signs, the way was pointed to, and the instructions were followed – all to the good for those whose lives were lived under the benefices of the ancient shamanistic sect.  In a recent interview Daubert is quoted as saying, “I was struck by the beauty and ingenuity of the construction of the temples, and the architectural and cosmological precision by which they were designed.”

Energy Sensing Wall in Daubert’s Installation at Blue Line Gallery

The viewer completes the work is a standard art idea and it applies to the Transfiguration installation.  My impression of the work is that in developing the installation for the Blue Line Gallery, being the artist that he is, Chris took the leap from the moment of perception standing before the remnants of an ancient culture, and landed in a perceptual realm of his own.  Ignoring any possibility that in our culture the mystical is often generally denigrated, and, it seemed to this viewer, with the unmitigated energy of a mad scientist, one with sound mathematical ability, and more than the usual knowledge of electronic mechanizations, he proceeded to create an ambitious and intriguing project.  One could say he was following the creed Bruce Naumann adhered to when he said, “the true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths.”  Is he being ironic (as Naumann is suspected of being)?  We aren’t sure, but the site-specific installation, besides being impressive on a technical level is also very beautiful, shadowy, mysterious and ritualistic in effect, so perhaps there’s no room for irony, a refreshing experience sometimes.

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OUT OF THE BLUE

Posted by erin on December 27th, 2010

Gale Antokal Shows at Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

Gale Antokal’s Departure 1 (Study), 2010, Pastel, ash and flour on paper

Gale Antokal has long been a member of the San Jose State University, Department of Art faculty, and known locally as a powerful teacher by her students and colleagues. In the 90’s, Antokal worked her pastels into solid portrayals of forms such as bowling balls, plates, and other domestic objects in luscious color which was a tour de force, an undeniable physical presence in their worldly domain.  For the last ten years, the dichotomy in her work has caused a movement toward the ethereal moments, events and places that are possible illusions, embody premonitions, and are almost impossible to situate. Her drawings are delicate, often pale works, in the fragile medium of pastel on paper, which transcend the material world and transport us to a contemplation of the small events of everyday life in a much larger context. Her drawings question our role in everyday existence as well as our unfathomable universe, and question the human capacity to know or sense its’ connection to a larger domain. In Antokal’s recent exhibition Out of the Blue, at Couturier Gallery in Los Angeles, she continues to embrace the incomprehensible points in life when something mundane, yet monumental, passes before us ineffably.

Out of the Blue 3, 2010, Gale Antokal, at the Couturier Gallery, Los Angeles

The fine powder of chalk, ash and flour are apt vehicles for the metaphor of the lightness and evanescence of life that is the subject of much of her work. These monochromatic materials create an uncertainty, an anxious unseen force surrounding every life event. Antokal speaks of a haunting image from childhood of spilt milk flowing down stairs– this is one of those small everyday moments, which we may not recognize as significant, but touches and so transforms our existence.

The trail of the skaters on ice in a mist, the mirror-like reflection of bicyclists on a wet surface, a figure blinded and caught up in a storm — all represent moments which our transient identity as humans is expressed. We lose our orientation.  The self-images we carry may be only memories or illusions, a conceit of our egos, a form on the verge of dissolution into its anonymity, or its most miniscule parts.


Antokal’s Cold Tears

A moving essay by UC Berkeley’s Craig Buckwald explores the suggestions brought forth by Antokal’s previous exhibition at the Patricia Sweetow Gallery in San Francisco, We Are So Lightly Here. From the ephemeral art materials — ash, flour and pastel — to the original photographs from which Antokal draws many of her images, there are references to the temporal, to the journey, displacements, and the precariousness of identity. Some photographs are cropped, clearly dated by fashion, and in their sense of movement with the metaphors suggested by suitcases, they speak to journeys, final or otherwise.

Gale Antokal: Aornos 12, 2010

In images from Out of the Blue, we see figures that pass through an archway, farm buildings that are silhouetted by the stormy sky light of an approaching tornado, which direct us once again to the moments when everything changes, but still, the cycles of life and death continue unabated.  In Cold Tears, icicles that hang from a roof evoke the sense of metamorphosis of the solid, to the liquid, ice to water, which then evaporates- this is one more cycle of life. A domesticated bird, which sits on top of its cage, once again evokes the metaphor of the fragility of life.  This makes me wonder if the bird could survive if it escaped to the outdoors, or if its freedom from the cage is more important. In an effort to ponder these situations we do the best that we can to realize that the mysteries of life are precious and invaluable. Buckwald believes that Antokal is saying, “Let it go.”

Not many of those who know Gale Antokal as an artist and a teacher will have had the opportunity to see her work in Los Angeles or San Francisco. Ideally, these works should be viewed collectively to get a full sense and impact of Antokal’s considerations and explorations. As I write these comments on Professor Antokal’s work, I hope that a more extensive exhibition of her work may be seen in Silicon Valley someday.

PELLET’S FIRST SOLO SHOW

Posted by erin on December 22nd, 2010

Charming, Playful and Humorous Works Fill Empire Seven Studios

By Erin Goodwin-Guerrero

From mural-sized to miniature, Kyle Pellet’s works engulf the viewer

I really love Pellet’s show.  I didn’t know a thing about this youthful San Jose artist, when I first received the show announcement, but the reproduction of a figure with a black face and dots flying around it really looked promising so I got to the gallery as soon as I could.  Wow! Even the view of the murals seen from Seventh Street through the open roll-up utility doors shouted “Come on in, this is going to be good!”  And it is.  A big mural of Pellet’s signature multicolor flying spots runs around several walls and along one, it reads PELLET’S SHOW in big letters.  In contrast, lots and lots of small works on paper are arranged in elongated diamond configurations on three more walls.

Pellet defies the odds that the viewer will want to look at everything.

In an Internet interview on PICDIT, Pellet says he produces about 300 works a year and acknowledges that he buys all his frames from thrift stores.  His diminutive drawings and paintings on miscellaneous papers, in a variety of small frames, are presented in the popular youthful salon style that, for many artists, can be a busy assault of both the good and the bad.  Not so for Pellet, however.   His wall montage is an intense experience of quirky narratives, semi-abstract pattern paintings, weird little marvels and hilarious characters that will make you laugh out loud, and they all seem worth looking at.  There is so much going on in each one, even those that at first seem simple, that a viewer probably cannot absorb everything in one trip to the gallery.  Visual overload.  So make a second trip to see it all!

A lot of entertaining approaches with mostly untitled works.

How do comical and cartoony little images transcend the one-liner and the superficial stereotypes of the genre?  It takes a talented and innovative artist with a great wit and commitment to something that is inside, itching to get out.  Not only is Pellet clearly an energetic talent, he has several repeating directions going on at once, different formal approaches and motifs that overlap.  He uses a lot of color and still, often, he leaves a lot of white space. Some little paintings are solitary figures that exploit his wide-spaced dotty-eye-figures, with perhaps carrots for eyebrows or a corncob for a mouth.  Sometimes they are part insect or are composites of any number of inanimate objects.  When he indulges in major scenarios, the landscapes are fanciful in and of themselves, with unlikely colors.  Swarms of crazy other-world and hybrid creatures may be involved in battles and survival dramas. Sometimes he paints a simple rogues’ gallery of character portraits from a selected cast.  Sometimes the actors are simply his dots and buzzing little abstract shapes.

Why did everyone love this work so much?

Pellet’s work with gouache and small brushes is in a world somewhere between painting, illustration and outright cartoons.  It is youthful, full of humor and totally original, not borrowing from animé.  It is urban but not urban alienation.  Pellet calls himself a self-taught painter, yet he does have a degree form San Jose State University in film and frequently reveals his love of narrative.  An educated eye and a certain innate sophistication are seen in this oeuvre, as well!

Don’t miss this show.  Check with Empire Seven Studios for a closing event:

Empiresevenstudios.com