Vibrating Eye

Intrigued by the use of copper toned metallic colors in painting, I find myself utterly mesmerized by these works.  My fascination with copper toned metallic colors or other metals such as gold or silver toned metallic colors comes from my early childhood experience of drawing with these metallic ink pens in my childish scribbly drawings.  The first time I had them I was still living in Shanghai, maybe around the age of 7, the gift of these liquid metallic ink pens just enthused me further with the desire of wanting to come to the US.  It was as if, this would be a dreamland full of glittering gold and silver, a land of hope and happiness.  Sooner and later, I have also to learn to discern my prematurely conceived fantasy with the reality of American quotidian details.  But that is a very different story perhaps for another time, and now I must stop reminiscing before digressing too far and try to describe to you these paintings by Garth Weiser currently on view at Casey Kaplan.
What is most amazing about these works is the texture, and that there are two ways of appreciating its visual quality from both looking afar and close up. Personally, there are only a handful of paintings of which I could say the same. To show some examples, here I have included details and close up shots of the works.

The overall composition of restricted geometry interposed with irregular lines reminds me of works by Wassily Kandinsky that he did during the years between 1923-33. It is the juxtaposition of these sharp triangular shapes with the visual interruption of organic circular shapes and soft curvaceous lines that makes up noise and speaks in volumes of how abstraction has this ability to trigger emotions. Like in music, there is the underlaying theme that carries on, but the variation and the counterpoint is what really makes it exciting to the audience. Here in the detail image, you can easily see the amount of work that went on the canvas. There seems to be 3 different layers of work going on, the white under painting, the thick metallic copper paint that has been molded into different geometric patterns, then the filling-in gesture of black and white lines marks the geometry into the overall composition.

When I say vibrating eye in my title is because there is also an Op-art effect like you are probably most familiar with in Bridget Riley's works. The application of these repetitive line pattern that gradually works itself into small diamonds crisscrossing over the neo-colored surface underneath produces animating visual effects that could possibly hypnotize you if you don't be careful and remember to look away in order to adjust to normal vision. What is different from Riley is that in these works, when you look up closely you discover another painting that is like a symphony of bright colors. In other words, these works are more than just Op-art but also carry the gesture and influence of Abstract Expressionism. In a way, in these works there is the enticing visual vibration combined with what is underneath, a whole other layer of different textures and colors that serves to evoke a different kind of emotions, perhaps one that is more cheerful or more violent and less controlled or restricted. Please go to Casey Kaplan by June 25, if you wish to see this exhibition.


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