Nyehaus at Dallas Art Fair 2016
April 14th - April 17th
Through the Looking-Glass
Robert Irwin’s Light Column, 1970 as Lens for
Peter Alexander’s Resin works from 1965 to the Present
“I see nobody on the road,” said Alice.
“I only wish I had such eyes,” the King remarked in a fretful tone.
“To be able to see Nobody! And at the distance, too! Why it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!”
-- Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
In their attempt to capture the visual impact of the toxic Southern California sky and the murky depths of the Pacific, a group of artists in the ‘60s coopted advanced industrial plastics for the task. While Titian or Turner could be considered the earliest pioneers of Light and Space art, their work depicts, rather than conjures, the physical visual impact of the ethereal. This group is not confined by the intrinsic inertia of paint, a single static moment. Their work is a virtually invisible cauldron filled with light and color that is stirred by the ever-changing atmosphere where the work resides.
The pairing of Robert Irwin’s conceptual “last object,” a clear acrylic column (created in 1969-1970), with Peter Alexander’s translucent resin sculptures in a lickable pallet of Pop colors, is an incendiary combination, the Charlie Parker-and-Dizzy Gillespie kind of combustible.
Irwin’s Column, three-finned, 9’ tall and 4” in diameter, functions as a divining rod for light and hue. The geometry of the column sets in motion a pinball effect of light and color rebounding between and distorting, and ultimately coagulating pigment back into the elemental spectrum. As in all of Irwin’s work and Alexander’s as well, the limitations of our rods and cones are tested similarly to the way an athlete’s cardiovascular system is challenged by extreme physical exertion. Opiates are released as our eyes reach the outer edges of their perceptual limitations.
Alexander’s work, resin cast into austere symmetrical forms, stripped bare of the ornamental, strives to harness the precise moment an object devolves into atmosphere, losing all structure; the instant when Aphrodite transmutes from human to myrrh tree. This is not static, but pulses between these two states. The intrinsic properties of Alexander’s precise color selection, or anti-color selection, is where the alchemy and ecstasy happens.