Dead horses and fool's gold - Page 2

Ventriloquism, alchemy: Ray Beldner at Catharine Clark and Leslie Shows at Haines

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Ray Beldner, Jared Loughner (Drawn by the hand of a young woman), 2011
IMAGE COURTESY OF CATHARINE CLARK GALLERY

Shows has worked layers of Plexiglas, colored ink, Mylar, crushed glass, metal dust, and mirrored shards onto thin, reflective aluminum panels (which she also engraves) to create trompe l'oeil effects that give her compositions dimensional heft despite their bas relief-like surfaces. When viewed head-on, a silvery pyramid-shaped outcrop seems to emerge from the upper left section of Face K (2011), pulling away from its striated Plexiglas backing. Similarly, Face P (2011) seems to extend infinitely back into the upper right hand corner of its aluminum "canvas" even as bloodied streaks (ink stains, perhaps?) in the lower half foreground the entire composition's flatness.

However dazzling, the pyrite portraits are not merely the sum of such special effects. A deeper kind of alchemy is going on here beyond Shows' transformation of industrial materials into representations of a mineral which is, by and large, useless to industry. I'm still trying to put my finger on it. Robert Smithson's dictum "Nature is never finished" comes to mind as a signpost, although I'm guessing he would've had beef with the Faces series.

In Smithson's gallery installations, the mirrors placed to infinitely reflect piles of shells or dirt were reminders of these natural components' infinite variety and unknowable totality. Nature could be brought into the white cube but the white cube would never fully exhaust it. Show's pyrite faces — with their man-made materials and Cubist collapsing of multiple perspectives — arrive at a similar conclusion, but through overt representation rather than presentation. To attempt the latter would risk evoking a naive transcendentalism which in this day and age could amount to a fool's errand.

RAY BELDNER: PORTRAITS

Through Dec. 23

Catharine Clark Gallery

150 Minna, SF

(415) 399-1439

www.cclarkgallery.com

LESLIE SHOWS: SPLIT ARRAY

Through Dec. 24

Haines Gallery

49 Geary, Fifth Flr., SF

(415) 397-8114

www.hainesgallery.com

Comments

Art can be used to express so much more than a picture could ever hope to express. Sometimes, it is the story behind the drawing that tells the tale, rather than the drawing itself. The person's personality sometimes spill over into the portrait, and so it makes the portrait more life like.

Posted by Michelle Kollathe on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

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