“Looking around, gazing intently, beholding,” on view at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, is Spencer Finch’s sixth exhibition with the gallery. The title pays homage to Japan’s Edo period, which was characterized by isolating foreign policies and a strict social order. These characteristics of Edo society bear comparison to events on a global scale in 2020. The intimacy that occurred during that period, when citizens were largely cut off from the rest of the world, is taking place in our social lives now; it is a similar experience with each of Finch’s sculptures. This intimacy was a result of a new sense of isolation.Throughout the gallery are four fluorescent filtered light sculptures mounted on the walls. The lights echo Japanese haiku format with seventeen colors; the exhibition itself pays homage to haiku by Matsuo Basho. The pieces also call attention to the four seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. The vertical lights compartmentalize space in a way that might not have been explored during the hustle and bustle of pre-pandemic life’s mundane activities. These lights are in three-part configurations at differing sizes, arranged side-by-side and revealing multiple pigments.
The elements involved in looking around, gazing intently and beholding emotions have been extremely prevalent for the public, especially in private moments. When the viewer genuinely gazes, looks with intention at these light structures, their beautiful nature can be explored in a deeper, non-aesthetic context.
Our perception of nature and color is questioned, but those two elements have been questioned more than ever within self-isolation. “Following a Bee (Zinnias),” (2020) shows small dots in various colors, a painting that to the eye is interesting yet calming. Looking at this piece in connection to isolation one might question the distance between the dots, the color selection of the dots (orange, pink, red) and the emptiness of the surrounding space. Much of the page is blank white space. The way we move through the world has come to a standstill in some ways, but Finch touches on the movement of art after a piece is finished. As you move around the works of paper, the spaces change, and one’s interpretation is obviously not linear.
Each piece within this show melts so perfectly with the white walls of the gallery. Finch forces us to look, to see with not only our eyes but with our brain. “Looking around, gazing intently, beholding” is carried out as more of a direction than a title. Finch directs us to explore these motions that are often taken for granted. (Caira Moreira-Brown)
“Looking around, gazing intently, beholding,” Rhona Hoffman Gallery, 1711 West Chicago, through October 31.