Structure and Space

 Entering Mark Dagley's Structural Solutions at Minus Space

Two current shows are interesting to me for the way their geometry occupies the space they’re in: Mark Dagley’s Structural Solutions at Minus Space in DUMBO, and Sarah Oppenheimer’s D-33 at P.P.O.W. in Chelsea.
Dagley has placed three large geometric paintings in a relatively small space—one painting per wall. Because of the gallery setup—the viewer enters via the fourth wall—there’s a strong sense of drama with the three leads emoting all at once. The installation shouldn’t work but it does. I wonder if it's the seemingly provisional installation, which allows the viewer to stand toe to toe with the paintings (which are nonetheless larger than life)? 
Each painting is set on flat aluminum blocks on the floor and leaned at a slight angle against the wall, a "casual" but clearly well-thought-out strategy. Each painting embodies some aspect of geometry, both in structure and composition: a bicolor right-angle triangle, a prismatic grid, and a long rectangular painting whose diagonal stripes and keyhole cutouts suggest something out of a construction site. I don’t think the latter analogy is out of line, since Dagley’s work is all about how his paintings are put together. Here’s how he has described it: “The opticality is just the sexy part, the byproduct of the real issue at hand, which is structure.”
Structural Solutions is up at Minus Space through October 27, with a concurrent retrospective at Kent Place Gallery in  Summit, New Jersey.

Left: Lucifer, 2012, acrylic on triangular canvas, 134 x 115 inches; right: The Mackintosh Variations, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 104 x 120 inches 

Continuing around the gallery, Janet's Dilemma, 2012, acrylic on canvas with notched holes, 78 x 156 inches  

 Entering Sarah Oppenheimer's D-33 at P.P.O.W

While the viewing experience at Minus Space is chromatically blazing and almost physically encroaching,  at P.P.O.W. it's quite the opposite. The gallery door opens into what appears initially to be an empty room. But there's geometric activity at the sides of each wall in front of you, and an off-kilter doorway beckons you to enter to find out what it is. The experience is serene yet surprising, with the elegance of the geometry revealing itself only if you navigate the space.

D-33 is up at P.P.O.W. through October 13.

Entering the doorway at right brings you into an empty space which leads you into . . .

. . . a small room that offers unexpected views of and through the structure. What you're seeing above is not a painting but a look through a glass window to the geometry of the doorframe we just entered

Below: We shift our gaze from left to right to see this construction

We're going to conintue walking through the structure, but just to orient you let's take a moment to peer through the window you saw in the photo just above this one. That's the door through which we entered the gallery

We continue our tour of the structure . . .

. . .and end in a south-facing room in which the sunlight through the windows becomes part of the geometry of the installation. (A mirror in the doorway skews and enhances the disorientation.)


Paul Behnke said...

Haven't been around to see these yet. Thanks for giving us a look!

Jane Guthridge said...

Thanks for your tour of these amazing installations. Your explanation of the "window" in Sarah's installation was helpful. I thought it was a painting. It's still a bitter difficult to wrap my head around. I wish I could walk through it to experience the space.

Richard Bottwin said...

Oppenheimer is just BRILLIANT! Can't wait to see this installation.

Julian Jackson said...

two wows! brilliant and ambitious abstraction for the 21st century.
thanks for the post, Joanne.

annell4 said...

Loved this post!