In the new exhibition at the gallery, juried by Alan Shapiro and curated by Denise Orlin, nothing is what it seems and very little is identifiable, which is the mark of good abstraction. Even things that are not normally abstract can be manipulated to transform them into the unrecognizable. The work of the nearly forty artists juried into this show takes one or the other of those paths.
Abstraction in nature drew the eyes of many of the photographers. Annette Nieves shows “Feminina,” a vibrantly colored, windswept canyon of the type usually captured in sandstone colors, giving it an edge over those we’re used to seeing. Katherine Puckett’s “Aqua River Delta” is awash with subtle watery hues and Carol Montgomery’s “Flowers in the Mist” blurs and softens a garden into a dreamlike vision. Candace Wark and Shirley Nannini invoke the subtle colors of swirling smoke with their jointly created image, “Inversion.”
In Anne Evans’ image “Calming Chaos,” stripes reflected in water waver and warp. Geri Aston Weinstock’s “Gaudi Through Glass” further bends the master of surreal architecture’s work, and Barbara Calabrese uses the symmetry of a grid of punched holes to show the viewer mere glimpses of the colorfully lit scene behind the screen in her image “Twilight on Adams.” Barb Pashup has captured what appears to be a multi-colored Missoni textile in “A Life Full of Colors.” Carol Regenhardt’s “Solar Artistry” gives us a linear head-on view of rusting stair treads transected by thick and thin shadow lines on both square and diagonal trajectories.
Several artists used contrast to produce strong lines and create forms and patterns. Benjamin Scharf’s “Future Feelings #1” is composed of a mere four black lines moving strongly upward and outward toward the top of the frame on a stark white ground, and Junko Yokota has reduced her image of shadows from a fire escape or something similar to pure contrasting forms in black and white, with dynamic angles and lines that excite the eye, titled aptly “Shadow Abstract.” Mark Davis isolates a looping white cord starkly against a solid black background in his photograph “Untitled.”
Jan Gerber’s macro image of twisting wires and fibers in brilliant colors, titled “The Web,” isolates just a thin strip of clear focus while blurring the surrounding areas by playing with depth of field. Joseph O’Neill reduces black, white and gray to a Mondrian-like composition in “Pattern 8916” and Stephanie Godinez’s compelling image “Into the Void” is composed of intersecting diagonal electric blue and green lines. The most powerful abstracts in the group, though, are four vibrantly colored images by Amy Perlmutter, each titled “Chemical Abstract,” followed by a number. No matter how long you ponder and puzzle over them, it’s impossible to decipher what they are. Being mystifying and perplexing is, after all, the nature of abstraction, though, isn’t it?
“Abstract” is on view at WithINSite Gallery, 4001 North Ravenswood, through May 30.