GISELA COLÓN: LIGHT POPS & SPACE PODS By Peter Frank
A sensibility does not age so much as evolve. The aesthetic
use a religious term); but, then, you could argue, everyone’s is.
variously called Light & Space, Finish/Fetish, LA Cool, and other
Colón’s objects distinguish themselves by their eccentricities,
flippant monikers has defied its detractors, and even its histo-
and equally by the tight rein she keeps on such eccentricities. To
rians, as deftly as it has its would‐be labelers. By now, several
the casual, uninformed eye her wall-hung “pods” and “pop-ups”
generations of artists (not all in southern California!) have entered
can look like somewhat miscegenated Craig Kauffmans or early
the discourse of “perceptualism” (Robert Irwin’s term, perhaps
Michael Ashers, replicating the former’s bubbles and the latter’s
the most descriptive, and certainly most august, to be applied),
faux-windows. But Colón doesn’t simply build on, much less
each building on the last’s investigations, the serious ones deter-
repeat, these models. She transforms them, perceptually and
mining new ways of seeing, however subtle, within their distinctive
contextually, so that they function differently than, and establish
practices. Gisela Colón worked her way diligently but not all that
presences distinct from, Asher’s and even Kauffman’s. In fact,
deliberately towards the conditions of perceptualism; then, real-
Colón’s signal contribution here is visual impurity, a willingness
izing she had done so, she embraced the approach, suddenly but
to saturate the object with rich and varied color, and even to elab-
firmly – and inventively.
orate its shape, so that the object’s presence is reified rather than
Colón adopted – or, if you would, entered into – perceptualism
almost as if converting to it. She studied its purposes, its effects,
A prevailing ethos in the “church” of perceptualism was the
its orthodoxies, even its clichés, in order to understand what these
suppression of appearance – the pretense that nothing physical
engaging, eccentric, highly purposeful artworks do and how they
stands before one, that whatever material provided such engaging
do it. Indeed, she seemed almost to be preparing her conversion
effects did so by dissolving into light itself. Kauffman’s wallworks,
by collecting the work voraciously and becoming friend and patron
the boxes of Larry Bell, the orbs of DeWain Valentine, all these
to many of the movement’s veterans, older and younger. Even so,
classic perceptualist icons – in contradistinction to the obduracy
Colón has not abandoned the painting style for which she had
of their minimalist counterparts on the east coast – seem almost
previously become well known; indeed, aspects of that painterly
to dematerialize into the spaces they occupy (assuming they
method recur in her new, more superficially featureless objects.
are lit correctly). Colón may be fascinated (as are we all) by this
(Her sensitivity to translucency and her way with high chroma,
quality, but what she seeks to explore is optical sensuousness, the
for instance, have translated expertly over to the new work.) This
richness of hue (and, again, chroma) – and, conversely, the rigors
might make her “take” on perceptualism somewhat syncretic (to
of concrete form.
By reverting to standard shapes, shapes so basic – slabs, cubes,
proportions. The single most eccentric factor in these works, the
orbs – that they fall beneath our regard, leaving only their colors
silver nodule erupting on the surface of each, may recur depend-
floating before us, many in the first generation of perceptualists
ably, but never in quite the same place, quite the same way. And,
insisted that materials and the forms they take are simply vehicles
meanwhile, the automotive lacquer saturating the pieces has been
for immaterial visual experience. Certain of their peers, however,
gradated, shifting in intensity and, often, hue across the looming
were less willing to erase the object, preferring to fabricate shapes
plastic skins. “My goal is for the viewer to experience more than
that body themselves forth. Illusion may figure strongly in these
one color in each piece simultaneously,” Colón writes, ensuring
shapes, as in the work of Ronald Davis and Tony DeLap, and such
that experience with layer upon layer of lacquer handapplied to
work supports the perceptualist philosophy of Zen apprehension.
the interior of each shell.
(“Things are not as they seem; nor are they otherwise.”) But,
The paintings by which Gisela Colón made her reputation,
however smooth and unarticulated their surfaces may be, there is
sealed though they may be behind thick, even coats of resin,
nothing shy or ghostly about these structures. They are present.
evince the artist’s hand. The paintings in fact benefit from such
Similarly, Colón’s objects are present. Their effects of light and
experiential tension, what amounts to visual cognitive dissonance.
color, reflection and refraction, may shift and shine, wax and
Colón seeks something of the same gentle frisson in her pods and
wane with the passage of the viewer – or for that matter, the sun
pop-ups, thinking of them as painting-sculpture hybrids, but also
– around the room, but they themselves hold fast. Retaining their
as hybrids between mechanistic exactitude and hand-fashioned
shape and, in particular, their material, even sensual, presence,
proximity – between manufacture, that is, and craft. “Orthodox”
Colón’s pods and pop-ups always change but never leave.
perceptualism presumed the elimination of the hand’s presence,
Colón emphasizes the presentness – and, for that matter,
no matter how much the hand was actually involved. Colón brings
tactility – of her pieces, particularly the pods, by, as she says,
back the hand while keeping the machine – and thus realizes
employing “a polychrome palette” and “Euclidean forms.” She
artworks inflected at the same time by painterly facture and
makes sure that the contours of her pods, while consistent with
utilitarian fact. This is the new face – and hand – of light and space.
her basic formal language, do not repeat. Her units, even if seemingly uniform, are not all cast from a single mold and left to conform to one another, but are proportionally manipulated so that their rounded edges occur at different places and to different
Los Angeles, October 2012
Gisela Col贸n Oblong Ooze Pod (Gold/Green/Hot Pink) 2012 Acrylic automotive lacquer on blow-molded plastic 30 x 88.5 x 8 in.
Gisela Col贸n Oval Melt Pod (Hot Pink/Orange/Creamsicle) 2012 Acrylic automotive lacquer on blow-molded plastic 30 x 88.5 x 8 in.
Gisela Col贸n Baby Pod (Nye + Brown Orange) 2012 Acrylic automotive lacquer on blow-molded plastic 14 x 21.5 x 7.5 in.
Gisela Col贸n Baby Pod (Burple) 2012 Acrylic automotive lacquer on blow-molded plastic 14 x 21.5 x 7.5 in.
The brush is an object of mediation. The loaded brush, separated from the hand by inches of handle, muffles the vibration between skin and canvas. Cabessa, with sponge, cloth or a variety of house holds objects, that seem often, randomly grabbed for their proximity to the canvas, circles the field, moving paint; wipers
1. Zamboni: proprietary name for a machine used to resurface ice skating rinks, 1965, trademark of Frank J. used to remove all evidences of skate blades in the surface of ice.
on windshield. She is on a quest for an image. Highly lubricated paint is washed across the canvas in waves. Washing over earlier gestures in search of that ecstatic moment where energy and gesture achieve the perfect ensnarement. Sweeping gesture, a full body release; the velocity can be slowed instantly to a delicate flick of the wrist. A ripple rises from the canvas; a sex filled sheet is shaken billowing down virtually wrinkle free. Controlled chaos. Action and restraint; an agile ballet. Cabessaâ€™s paintings are literally performative whether there is an audience present or not (often there is). She moves around canvas like a Whirling Dervish. She is stalking her prey. The brush is not a practical instrument of con(de)struction. She is a human zamboni1 seeking perfection; but with out the objective truth of a job well done. There is a certain amount of alchemy in her ability to conjure image from the indelicate vehicle to which she chooses to move paint. The result a field of optical illusions; canvas turns to wood, wood turns to ice. These are the artifacts of her dance. A solo performance with the might of a full company. Miriam Cabessa was born in Casablanca, Morocco. She has exhibited extensively thought out the United States and abroad. In 1997, Cabessa represented Israel in the Venice Biennial. She lives and works in New York and Tel Aviv.
Miriam Cabessa Untitled (Blue #1) 2011 Oil on linen 56 x 56 in.
Miriam Cabessa Untitled (Blue #2) 2011 Oil on linen 56 x 56 in.
Miriam Cabessa Line Drawings 1-9, 2007 Graphite on paper (9) 23 x 29 in.
Miriam Cabessa MCC, 2003 Oil on linen 51 x 51 in.
Miriam Cabessa MCC, 2003 Oil on linen 51 x 51 in.
2685 South La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90034 firstname.lastname@example.org 310 559 5215 nyeplusbrown.com — In conjunction with Gisela Colón & Miriam Cabessa October 23, 2012 — Design by Kyle LaMar
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