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Charles Ginnever's Rashomon and Amy Kaufman's drawings on view at San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
Charles Ginnever: Rashomon, 1993-95 (fifteen positions), Steel, 22 x 20 x 18 inches (dimensions vary with position), Photography: M. Lee Fatherree.

SAN JOSE, CA.- The San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art is presenting two exceptional solo exhibitions: Charles Ginnever: Rashomon, the California premiere of the complete 15-piece installation of steel sculptures modeled for the Artist’s landmark Rashomon Series; and Amy Kaufman: b+w, an exhibition and site-specific installation of large-scale charcoal drawings by this notable Bay Area artist.

In addition to shining the spotlight on the practices and works of these exceptional Bay Area natives, the ICA is inviting visitors to the exhibitions to embrace the spirit and mantra of the growing “slow art” movement. Art critic Robert Hughes described slow art as "Art that grows out of modes of perception and making whose skill and doggedness make you think and feel; art that isn't merely sensational, that doesn't get its message across in ten seconds, that isn't falsely iconic, that hooks onto something deep-running in our natures." One of the most exciting and powerful qualities of art is its ability to show alternate ways to perceive and experience the world. “Through their practices, both Ginnever and Kaufman challenge and invite the viewer to slow down and reflect on the very act of looking,” notes ICA Executive Director, Cathy Kimball. “Though seldom practiced in today’s fast-paced culture, taking one’s time to look can be an exciting, powerful and rewarding activity.”

For more than 50 years, Charles Ginnever has created large-scale sculptures in steel and bronze that are concerned with challenging and expanding our visual perceptions. Every angle of a Ginnever sculpture presents us with a different work of art; as the viewer moves around the sculpture, the piece is transformed, evolving at a different pace and in a different way. At first, his pieces seem to be the work of a master illusionist, but one soon realizes that the sculpture is not about illusion but rather about questioning traditional ideas about perspective. According to Ginnever, “My work sits motionless and is only activated by the viewer moving around it – only then does it start to perform.”

The best illustration of this phenomenon is Rashomon, a 15-piece installation of three-foot high steel sculptures that sit directly on the floor. Arranged in rows, these maquettes fill the entire main gallery at the ICA. The presentation is accompanied by small maquettes of other large-scale sculptures by Ginnever. The complete work, which has never been presented in California, is a model for the Rashomon Series, 15 13-foot high sculptures, of which only three have been fabricated to date. Also on view in the exhibition are a number of works on paper by Ginnever including an exquisite sculptural print titled Multus – a recent innovative work that when folded transforms into a lightweight portable sculpture. In describing the experience of interacting with the work, poet and critic John Yau writes, "The tension between the flat plane and the folded form asks us to pay attention to the everyday world we live in, and to recognize that in the simplest things—a flat sheet paper – there exists a possibility simultaneously enchanting and revealing.” Multus is being editioned at noted Landfall Press in Santa FE, NM. In addition, the ICA has installed a large-scale sculpture by the artist titled Slant Rhyme in the newly renovated Parque de Los Poblodores urban plaza directly across the street from the gallery.

The title, Rashomon is borrowed from Akira Kurasawa’s 1950 Japanese film of the same name, which presents widely different accounts of four witnesses to the same crime. Reflective of the film’s plot, Ginnever’s installation consists of identical units, each capable of assuming 15 distinctly separate positions. Even with the knowledge that all of these objects are identical, it is unexpectedly difficult to recognize each sculpture as the same form.

Charles Ginnever was born in San Mateo, California, in 1931. After traveling and studying photography and sculpture in Europe and California in the early 1950s, Ginnever moved to New York City and completed his MFA at Cornell University in 1959.

Ginnever has held a number of Artist-in-Residence teaching positions starting from1960s through the 1990s, including leading the art department at Windham College in Vermont from 1967 to 1975. Ginnever continues to work on sculpture, drawings and printmaking, primarily at the studios on his sculpture farm and home in Putney, Vermont.

In addition to receiving numerous prestigious awards and commissions throughout his 50-year career, Ginnever and his work have been the subject of a wide range of articles, books and catalogues. Since 1961 solo exhibitions of his sculptures and works on paper have been presented throughout North America, including: Charles Ginnever, 20 years – 20 Works, Sculpture Now, Inc., New York, NY; Charles Ginnever: New Sculpture, Construct, Chicago, IL; Smith-Anderson Gallery, San Francisco, CA, and the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for the Visual Arts, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. Ginnever’s work is included in numerous public and private collections around the world, including: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA; Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey; APEC Sculpture Garden, PICC, Manila, Philippines; and the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Australia.

Amy Kaufman: b+w is an exhibition of Kaufman’s large-scale charcoal drawings on paper created during past thirteen years. The ICA’s expansive Sandbox gallery makes it possible to show for the first time, several of the artist’s large drawings in one space. A site-specific installation titled Seabox, 2012 is also being presented in the ICA Project Room. This is Kaufman’s largest drawing and her first ‘surround’ piece. Kaufman’s bold, charcoal drawings, which represent the larger part of the artist’s work, represent a range of content and reveal the artist’s meditative practice. “The messy immediacy of the charcoal moving across the paper makes it ideal for quickly expressing ideas. The contrast and simplicity of black and white, along with variations of grey in between, as well as the imprecise quality of the marks and the working of the charcoal into the paper, are the qualities that make this medium appealing to me.” explains Kaufman.

Kaufman draws inspiration from the natural world and everyday objects. She synthesizes and translates her subjects’ patterns, textures and rhythms and invites the viewer to stop, look, absorb and meditate on their own personal references and translation of the works. Amy Kaufman has shown her work extensively throughout the Bay Area and across the country since receiving her fine arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts in 1990. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA; Fine Arts Museums, San Francisco, CA; The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA; Weatherspoon Art Gallery, Greensboro, NC; Mills College Art Museum, Oakland, CA; Monterey Museum of Art, Monterey, CA; and United States Embassies in Hong Kong and Singapore.

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December 24, 2012

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