TEXT BY MICHAELA MULLIN | VIEW IMAGES
It’s been a year of intense change and inter/action, innovation and celebration. The Winter Group Show is no different, including work from both familiar and new artists: Derrick Breidenthal, Andrew Clarridge, Tibi Chelcea, Antwain Clarke, Goizane Esain, Sarah Grant, Chuck Hipsher, Robert Hoerlein, Igor Khalandovskiy, Scott Charles Ross, Senid Tabakovic, Jeffrey Thompson, Chris Vance, Teresa Vander Linden, Jay Vigon, Jordan Weber, and Aaron Wilson and Tim Dooley.
The created flora and fauna of the Winter Group Show is as varied as any region and geography. And the abstract works included here depict an inner or strictly manifested world that is as welcoming as vast lands or sky ranges we might look out onto or up into. Which is exactly what we do at the new year: look ahead, assessing signs, putting forward hopes, resolving to remember, so that we can see and make future more clearly.
Take, for instance, the wall of “Circuit Floorplans” on black paper from new Moberg artist Tibi Chelcea. This grouping of fifty-seven small works cumulatively creates a library of visual mapping. These drawings in ink and colored pencil summon an attraction to the abstract, even as the mind works with the lines to make a sort of engineering or technological sense of them. It is precisely this scientific sense that is subverted by the graphical dexterity and empty space that Chelcea draws, as if creating new conduits for our design sensibility, and transforming that assumed understanding into one of more-finely-tuned reception. The three works from the series, framed and hung separate of the others, feel more anatomical. Here, his spare use and certain placement of concentric circular space and lines visualizes a proximity less to the digital, closer to analog, and closest to bodily, though with a startling symmetry still in place.
New Moberg artist Antwain Clarke’s detailed and delicate graphite drawings are intricate studies of space and figure. “Further Beyond” presents a vital crocodile, covered in flowers, birds above. The meticulousness in this work is further enhanced by Clarke’s compositional inclination to float his subject in the middle of the page, and to leave the paper to itself beyond what the graphite emerges. His other three smaller pieces, “Ribba Mammy,” “Madonna II,” and “Femina,” work this way, as well. The gorgeous graphite renderings of fierce and radiant women combined with the realistic depiction of black bodies, as well as the blank space of the paper and the black frames, all serve to offer up a small world where the shades of dark and white also speak to a less gentle cultural history.
Goizane Esain’s sliced photographic images on aluminum are bright spring slivers that warm the eyes, even as the temperatures outside trigger our tear ducts. This large-scale work intersperses color and shape, taking the landscape and rearranging it, almost as if we were moving by or through it, saccadic eye movement keeping up with the shifts in scenery, scanning, and taking in the overall content as a consolidated beauty based on multiple units. “Blooming” is subtle in its lilac and white flowering, and its skies of white and cornflower blue alter our sense of clear and cloudy, resulting in real and intimated gradients, and where literal gaps are filled with sensory ones.
“Organic Matter,” oil on canvas by Sarah Grant, appears as abstraction meeting voracity. Each color takes its respective space, sometimes cradling, sometime crashing into others; always in service of producing an image that simultaneously feels subterranean and above ground—exposing shifting strata. Conn Ryder’s smart clustering of color embroiled with whites, in “Artifice & Outright Fakery,” is like avant-garde ikebana with acrylic on canvas.
Jay Vigon has six ink works on dura-leen from “The Line” series. These calligraphic works are simple and quiet, almost as if the portraiture were floral still life. The beautiful disparity between these organic portraits and Vigon’s “Cityscape #44” is most clear in the latter’s abundance of right angles, color blocking, and oh-so-orderly parallelograms, like an aerial view reminiscent of computer generated shapes and IBM punched cards, in a box with licorice allsorts.
Also, incorporating both what appears as organic and artificial, but this time within one work, is Chuck Hipsher’s “The Great Divide.” A quadriptych disguised as a diptych, Hipsher foregoes an entire canvas of swirl and liquidity by including in the upper left-hand corner a small square of black and band of gray-blue. By doing so, the eye continues to move and then rest, circling back and starting again at the place where we begin to read—left to right, top to bottom. The movement of Hipsher’s red and black strokes allows for smooth pursuit of the eye, riding the wave.
Rob Stephens’ usual humor continues with “Be Funny,” a mixed media work on unstretched canvas. Stephens’ raw comic-like line drawings and text bubbles in black, over a background predominantly in light blue and brown, belies a much more sobering message, as is the case with so many of Stephens’ works. He is a master at capturing, with image and word, the anxiety of social and sexual beings, desirous and vulnerable beings. And he exposes the great human complexity and tragi-comedy: the awkwardness that exists between the reluctance to present or perform as our social selves and the actual public performance itself.
Jordan Weber’s “Blood Moon” also conveys in cartoon-like depiction, but drills even deeper through a surface crust of systemic racial and cultural bias and violence, evidencing our nation’s sorrow and bloodshed by way of an animal bloodily traversing a fake paradisiacal landscape.
Derrick Briedenthal’s oil painting, “Dusting,” gives the sense of open-road driving on a perhaps-dangerous but stunningly beautiful day. The color and texture of weather, in Briedenthal’s hands, makes for a strange simulation moment—standing before the canvas, there is a sense that one is actually standing at the window to this impressionistic environment, gazing out at a familiar yet even more veracious horizon.
“Hypnotic,” by Andrew Clarridge, is an optical work. In its stripping of and cutting up, Clarridge has created earth-toned floral and insectile-like forms, surrounded by floating geodesic objects. Its symmetrical balance and mirror-like quadrants, however, are betrayed by seemingly random small dots, lines, and dotted lines. Pattern here becomes broken in surprising ways.
Senid Tabakovic’s work brings the cosmos; Igor Khalandovskiy, the aquatic. Scott Charles Ross shows us lunar, and Karen Strohbeen, the floral operator, brings a single bloom in all its shining glory. There is a diptych by Chris Vance that serves up his vibrancy and organicism in luscious layers. All form of galactic and earthly representations and ideas are vibrating on these walls. Aaron Wilson and Tim Dooley display two mildly psychedelic silkscreens, complete with cows and emoji; while Teresa Vander Linden builds a bridge for the viewers in mixed media, and Jeffrey Thompson reminds us to smile even when the storm clouds are rolling in.
So, whether they are floor plans, weather or flight charts, road or mind maps, each new year, we start the calendar journey with plans of action, to varying degrees and in multiple milieus. The Winter Group Show is up through February—put Moberg Gallery on your itinerary.
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