Works by eight Nashville-area artistsAlex Blau, Patrick DeGuira, Warren Greene, Ron Lambert, James Perrin, Christopher Roberson, Terry Thacker and Amelia Winger-Bearskinare on display in the Frist Center
s Conte Community Arts Gallery from through Feb. 2, 2014. The exhibition, entitled Abstractometry, features works that employ geometric patterns, typography or other graphic codes to express cultural factors that shape our lives.
The title of the exhibition reveals two threads of commonality that tie these unique works together. Abstractometry merges the term "abstract‖" a synopsis of a larger ideawith the notion of "metrics‖" how we measure and are defined by systems ranging from technology and architecture, to language and film.
"By using text, geometric elements or other unexpected images, these artists present work embedded with perceptions of society that are open to interpretation," explains Frist Center Chief Curator Mark Scala. "They explore various aspects of society through film, music, collages and paintings."
For example, artist Alex Blaus precise, geometric paintings reference popular culture, notably Japanese anime and bright product packaging like gum-wrappers. Similarly, Amelia Winger-Bearskins Dance Sequence videos have a pop sensibility. Remixed from musicals, cartoons and nature shows from the 1960s and 70s, the arrangements feature soundtracks adapted from Broadway and pop music.
In most of the works in the series Allegory: Petite Tigers, Terry Thacker printed scenes from news images of a New Jersey roller coaster that had been bent, twisted and flooded by Hurricane Sandy. "The collages of Terry Thacker demonstrate the capacity of art to define not only who we are, but also what we have lost," says Scala.
In Warren Greenes paintings, the idea of loss is similarly reinterpreted. Loose atmospheric forms and rigid gridlines are applied, then scraped, sanded and reapplied. "Greenes use of the grid is in the spirit of 20th-century artists such as Piet Mondrian, Agnes Martin and Carl André, for whom the structure provides a poetic symbol for social progress or cosmic balance," Scala explains.
According to Mr. Scala, Ron Lambert offers a variation on the theme by identifying the grid as a fundamental aspect of urban existence, and he uses it to question the primacy of human order. In his work Static, gridded squares appear as bits of civilization interspersed between fragments of nature, then disappear from the landscape and reappear elsewhere. The accompanying audio reflects a dynamic and edgy tension between the two worlds.
Patrick DeGuira transforms a simple cause and effect declaration into a semiotic play on ways meanings can shift with different word placements. "DeGuiras Steals Clock. Faces Time has the composure of a newspaper headline, which we might read thusly: someone steals a clock, is caught and faces jail time. The text has peculiar inner phrases or couplings that might have other, more poetic resonance: ‗clock/faces, ‗steals/time, also, ‗clock/time,"says Scala.
James Perrin combines radically different painting techniques within each of his works, while commenting on consumer culture. "Many of his paintings feature sinuous lines and electrifying gestures woven together with images of humanity to suggest the elasticity of time, space and consciousness," says Scala.
Christopher Roberson, on the other hand, finds metaphorical significance in aspects of entertainment such as sports and cartoons. He translates these cultural forces into simple forms or abstract notions, but leaves them open to interpretation. In both Area and Wettt, Roberson alludes to basketball, while Smile Variations is a fanciful series of arcs transformed into a group of cartoon-like smiles.