In Glenn Wexler’s current show at Zolla Lieberman, the work ranges from small and intimate to large-scale installations. Wexler, an accomplished photographer and longtime master of silkscreen and cut vinyl, is adept at juxtaposing the two to great effect in this exhibition.
There are thirty-inch round images from Wexler’s “Urban Sky” series, printed on a metallic underlay subsurface, in which architecture collides with idyllic blue skies. Although we see only a small portion of each building, the way Wexler captures them makes them seem monumental. They appear to be porthole windows allowing us a glimpse of the view outside. Looking closely, one sees an almost sparkling surface quality that gives them an otherworldly appearance. Also mounted to cast acrylic, but less interesting are the station pieces, which do not show Wexler’s gift for creativity.
In this show, the standout works are two installations, “Pink City (Chicago),” and “Us, The Tree 14,” each of which fills a wall. In “Pink City (Chicago),” Wexler has literally papered the wall, edge to edge, creating a kaleidoscopic wallcovering pattern from multiple images. It is colorful, light and whimsical, actually very playful, but executed to perfection, as are all of Wexler’s works. On the gallery’s longest wall, “Us (The Tree 14)” spreads a cut vinyl outline of a mature, verdant tree across a series of mirrors, forming a pixilated composition on the wall’s pristine white surface and reflects on the gallery’s glossy floor. Long black jagged lines weave from the tree across the floor. Although Wexler writes in his statement that the black form on the floor is meant to be a bare tree, I prefer to see it as a root nourishing the dazzling tree above. He says that the piece represents “what is lost and what could be.”
Perpendicular to the mirrored wall installation is a quiet series of tree photographs, simply and cleanly framed in white. They have been made in cities as far-flung as Seoul and Tokyo, yet all bear a striking resemblance to one another. A single leafless tree—the same tree from the floor, which is either dead or autumnal, stands against a background of generic urban buildings. Surrounding the bare branches in each piece is a mylar outline of the same mature tree as if it was outlined before losing its leaves. Many of the works in this show are labeled “unique,” meaning an edition of one. I think the word “unique” also describes the artist himself—Wexler is one of a kind, both in his approach and in his effective use of uncommon materials.
“Glenn Wexler: Above and Below” is on view at Zolla Lieberman Gallery, 325 West Huron through December 23.