Charlotte Jackson Fine Art opens an exhibition of works by Helen Pashgian

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Charlotte Jackson Fine Art opens an exhibition of works by Helen Pashgian
Helen Pashgian, Untitled, 2021. Epoxy & acrylic, 6.5 x 6.5 x 6.5 in.

SANTA FE, NM.- An exhibition of new works by Helen Pashgian opened at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art on December 3 and will remain through January 3, 2022.

Small worlds. From out of the white and gray gallery space, spheres coalesce. Brilliant color. Luminous. Complex. The glowing orbs turn the viewers into satellites: we sail forward, close in, pulled by the gravity of these small condensed globes of pinks, oranges, greens, rust and silver, lavender and blues and then we begin to slowly circle, propelled by the subtle changes and depths of the spheres. Shadows, shapes, glimmers of light spark and shift.

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art is presenting an exhibition of five new spherical sculptures by eminent Light and Space movement founder, Helen Pashgian. Each of these poured resin “Presences” (as Pashgian calls them), sits atop a plinth – inviting the viewer to engage from all directions. Those familiar with Pashgian’s work will recognize the common themes and elements common to her exploration of light and space: the ingenious use of high tech materials to create translucent objects that play with and investigate light.

Embedded in the objects are shapes that act like inclusions in a colored gemstone – creating shadows, sparks – these shapes within the spheres complicate the way light penetrates and moves through them. From one angle, an embedded prism forms a seemingly unending column of clear light – but move just a bit and it has edges that become opaque. A spark of white is suddenly blue. Colors shift radically. Pale pink shifts through all the colors of sunset. A cool turquoise goes colorless, then palest peach. Raspberry becomes flame orange-red. A strip of blue becomes a purple arc that bleeds out into the globe. The spheres in this exhibition act like small beacons, radiating light in unexpected ways, and illuminating strange and endlessly evolving colorful worlds within.

It is easy to see early influences worked out in these pieces, from the tidal pools of Pashgian’s childhood, to her art history training, focused on the Dutch Golden Age particularly the work of Vermeer. It is not difficult to look at one of these spheres, with its inclusions, shadows, and brilliant shifts of color, and to envision a tide pool – the water, clear, yet flecked with salt and mica, blinking light, filled with brilliant star fish, scuttling crabs, and the mysterious ebb and flow of brilliant green seaweeds. But this raw influence has been refined, and Pashgian, in her turn, has taken a cue from the calm and achingly clear rendering of light in Vermeer’s works and translated it, condensed it, into three-dimensional matter.

Though in the past Pashgian may not have been recognized fully for her place within the Light and Space movement, by 2021, she is having her moment. Further examples of Pashgian’s work can be seen at an exhibition at SITE Santa Fe (November 19 – March 22, 2022). The exhibition culminates in a large-scale installation Untitled (2012-2013) which was first shown at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 2014. And both Santa Fe exhibitions coincide with the publication of a new book, “Helen Pashgian: Spheres and Lenses” by Radius Books. This gorgeous limited edition will launch in Winter 2021.

It is a wonder, wandering through this exhibition of spheres by Helen Pashgian, the way these pieces hold our attention, turn our thoughts, engage our senses. Each small world, filled with light, roiling with vivid color, is an active, living thing, pulling us into its enigmatic radiance – activating a corresponding resonance within.

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