Art Review: Convergence at Brandt-Roberts Gallery
Convergence, the exhibition currently on view at the Brandt-Roberts Galleries, offers both a novel format as well as the chance to appreciate some first-rate contemporary art. In organizing the show, gallery owner Michelle Brandt first scheduled gallery artists Christopher Burk and Jacci Delaney to exhibit their work together. Those artists were then invited to select one other contemporary artist to complement their work. The result is a four-person show that pairs Burk with watercolorist Cody Heichel and Delaney with sculptor Natalia Arbelaez. The resulting show is successfully eclectic, offering a little something for everyone while still managing to present a cohesive body of work.
Christopher Burk has been enjoying a great deal of success lately. In addition to this current exhibition, he has recently been awarded a GCAC Individual Excellence Award and was also named the Columbus Underground Best Local Artist of 2014. This shouldn’t be surprising. His works are technically accomplished, compositionally striking, and (given the relatively mundane subject matter), entirely accessible.
Burk is an urban landscape painter whose current work eschews the traditional street-level gaze (and its attendant horizon) for views we don’t often consider. His work looks upwards, to the tangle of lines, wires and infrastructure that traverse the space above our daily lives. More so, he shows us this world in a way that forces us to look more closely. The exacting level of detail draws us into the paintings, and the lines keep us there; moving our eye naturally across the plane and through the work. There’s something relentlessly objective about these works too. These are not urban landscapes presented as a commentary on urban life. They’re more detached than that, more stoic; closer in spirit to the cool church interiors of Daniel de Blieck than the squalid tenements of the Ashcan School. Given Burk’s obvious technical ability and penchant for detail it will be interesting to see what he trains his eye (and ours) on next.
Though not readily apparent, Jacci Delaney works in a similar vein, utilizing cast glass and holograms to draw attention to that most humble of packing materials, bubble wrap. Before we go further though, know this: the business of material transformation and juxtaposition in art (that is, using Surprising Material A to fabricate Surprising Object B) is becoming a very well-trod path. It’s ubiquity means that when it’s not done well it can look cheap and lazy, like a shortcut. Happily, Delaney does it right. Her works transcend the source material and present us with objects that are altogether original, timeless, and enigmatic. Bubble wrap, in all its humble and machine-made glory, is transformed. It becomes something new. It becomes expressive.
I’m Not as Strong as I Used to Be confronts viewers like an ethereal relic. Patinaed to a rich, glowing amber, it conjures up notions of an archaeological dig while addressing themes of both frailty and healing. Steel Blue Sublimation and Bubble Wrap Vortex are like otherworldly geodes, twisting the concepts of organic and inorganic until they’re nearly inseparable. Like three-dimensional riddles, Delaney’s works keep viewers guessing. This merging of the organic and inorganic, as well as the personal nature of many of the works bring to mind the Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow. They also make it clear that material exploration in art is alive and well.
Rounding out Convergence are artists Cody Heichel and Natalia Arbelaez. In the context of Burk and Delaney’s work these two artists make perfect sense. Heichel presents watercolors that offer a looser, more impressionistic take on the urban environment. His recent inclusion in the Tacocat Masterworks show suggest he’s an artist to watch. Similarly, the sculptures of Natalia Arbelaez dovetail wonderfully with Delaney’s personal brand of surrealism. The disembodied heads resemble something very much like a collection of death masks, but their arrangements in groups and pairs suggest that perhaps we are not destined to live and die alone.
We’ve got some talented artists in Columbus; artists who help us see the world in new and surprising ways. Convergence highlights four of them. It’s a show that’s not to be missed.
Convergence is on view at Brandt-Roberts Galleries through September 27th. More information is available at brandtrobertsgalleries.com/exhibitions/.
Transcending and Earth,
Glass and Porcelain
10 x 10 x 8 in.
Connected, Franklinton IV,
Oil on Panel
17 x 13 in.
I’m Not as Strong as I Used to Be,
8 x 5 x 10 in.
Goodale and Olentangy,
Watercolor on Paper
21 x 13 1/2 in.