REVIEW With the evolution of the gallery into a white, blank space, the artwork displayed within its walls has metamorphosed as well. The first-floor exhibit at the Meridian Gallery, "Form +," curated along with two adjacent shows, "Franck André Jamme: New Exercises" and "Dhyana" by California College of the Arts dean Larry Rinder call into play both of these factors.
In its very nature, the three-story Victorian that houses Meridian already opposes the clean lines most contemporary art galleries aspire to. Instead, one enters to a bare first floor, ripe with references to its early 20th-century past. A fireplace nook, a step down from the level of the rest of the floor, houses an installation penned directly on the walls of tiny paintings in graphite and gouache by Léonie Guyer. Her clean forms are abstract as are all of the works included in the three shows and filled with solid colors. Within this busy context, Guyer's pieces help to establish the crux of "Form +." Guyer's clean forms are abstract, as is all the work included in these shows; filled with solid colors; and within this rather busy context, help to establish the crux of "Form +." Aiming to address the meditative qualities of form, this exhibition posits formalism as not merely about the materials but a very specific cerebral process. Guyer rejects the necessity for a space devoid of context in favor of a site-specificity that almost obliterates her pieces yet maintains the viewer's consideration.
"Form +"'s remaining works, exhibited in less quirky settings, are slightly more insular. In spite of the self-referential qualities of the pieces on paper by Todd Bura or Prajakti Jayavant, who both account for every line or crease in their compositions, there is an overarching sense of history: the immediate history of the artist's hand and that of the artists' awareness of their place within the broader timeline of art history. As a result, the throwback atmosphere of Meridian's space both complements and highlights the beautiful subtleties of these works by a somewhat underrepresented contingent of contemporary Bay Area artists.
FORM + Through May 3. Tues.Sat., 11 a.m.5 p.m., free. Meridian Gallery, 535 Powell, SF. (415) 398-7229, www.meridiangallery.org