A couple of weeks ago I visited the Four Squared exhibition at Arc Studios and Gallery – I attended the opening and also visited again later when it was quiet. I present some of my thoughts and observations before the exhibition closes tomorrow, September 18.
The basic idea of the exhibition is that each artist contributes 16 pieces, no larger than 10 inches apiece, that can arranged in a four-by-four grid. The pieces stand on their own as individuals or as a whole, but in each case they 4×4 collection follows some coherent theme. Keeping the numerical theme going, there were a total of 16 artists, so there were a total of 256 (4 x 4 x 4 x 4) pieces in the exhibition.
There were artists whose work I was already familiar with, such as Silvia Poloto, Kristina Quinones and Rebecca Fox, and others who I discovered for the first time. Among the discoveries was Sidnea D’Amico:
[Sidnea D'Amico, installation view.]
Her pieces feature high contrast color and iconic elements representing household items, female figures and firsts. Keep Out, Private, which its geometric and urban feel, particularly caught my attention, as did Still Life 4 for its simple shapes and color.
[Sidnea D'Amico. Keep Out, Private and Still Life 4 (2010)]
The pieces among D’Amico’s set that I particularly liked shared a sense of color and contrast with the purely abstract pieces by Silvia Poloto, whose work I have followed for many years.
[Silvia Poloto. Abstraction in Motion series (2010). Installation view.]
Hers were among the smallest in the exhibition, each one a miniature version of the elements that appear in her larger works such as concentric circles, soft-edged color fields, and tangled lines. The were very inviting, and I had to resist the desire to simply take one and put it my pocket. I doubt I would be invited to any more art openings if I did that.
Rebecca Fox is another artist who usually works on a larger scale. Her large metal sculptures have both a strength and simplicity, with the geometric shapes and smooth textures. Like Poloto, she has brought the quality of her full-scale works to these miniature panels:
[Rebecca Fox. Installation view]
Each panel focuses on shapes that are round but not perfectly circular – both organic in terms of curved shapes but also mechanical in terms of the metalwork.
Molly Meng’s work in the exhibition is about as contrasting to the previous artists as one can get. Her mixed media panels feature found objects with a weathered quality, placing intimate personal objects, photographs and clips from newspapers and magazines, inside of weathered wooden boxes:
[Molly Ming. La Premier Phase #3, Phase Deux #3, and Phase Deux #4. Images from Arc Studios website. (Click to enlarge.)]
Meng used the arrangement of the grid to form a narrative, with each row representing a different phase of life. Each of the three images above were from a different phase.
Mitchel Confer’s series, entitled “IOU or not”, also is focused the stages of life, and in a very serious way. This summer, while preparing for the exhibition, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer, and the focus of his life changed to focus on taking care of himself and spending time with his family. He abandoned his original plans for the exhibition, and instead created 16 blank wooden panels:
[Mitechel Confer. IOU or NOT. Installation view.]
Each panel is an “I.O.U.” of sorts. The buyer may keep the panel as is, or exchange it at a future time for a completed panel based on a series of sketches. If he does not recover, the panels become his last works of art. There is a very morbid quality to the project – but one I am not in a position to judge given where I am in my own life. But one cannot help but reflect on life after seeing it. I did like the sketches he did present, with their urban architectural elements.
I went to review his website and saw that architecture and cityscapes are a prominent theme in his work. He also did a series based on freeways. Seeing that his visual interests seem to have so much in common with mine makes this story all that more poignant.
Other series that I did notice in the exhibition were those by Brian McDonald and Fernando Reyes. Both artists mentioned dreams as an influence and although quite different, their work immediately brought cartoons and comics to mind.
[Brian McDonald. Slippy (2010). (Click image to enlarge.)]
[Fernando Reyes. Details XIII (2010). (Click image to enlarge.)]
There will be a closing reception and artists’ panel tomorrow, September 18, at Arc Studios, 1246 Folsom Street, San Francisco, between 10AM and 3PM.