Tuesday, July 1, 2008

"Trompe l'oeil" or "trompe l'esprit?"

Roger Dickes at Sea and Space Explorations

I've always had a soft-spot for drawing. In most cases of artistic practice, a drawing almost always precedes a final work of art and assumes the function of a preparatory study or guideline for an artist. However, in recent years it has become more common to feature drawings as finished works of art in and of themselves, rather than just a meaningless doodle in a sketchbook. There is historical precedence of such activity dating back to the Renaissance, if not earlier. A concrete example, which comes to mind for me, is Albrecht Dürer's Stag Beetle (Currently on view as a part of the Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum).

During the time of Dürer, drawings were not really considered art objects, but merely study notes that were compiled by the artist to organize their thoughts, and at times used to re-work ideas related to composition and layout. If you take a good look at this specific drawing, it is clear that Dürer had spent a substantial amount of time rendering this object to the point of completion as an independent work of art. Roger Dickes' show, Firmament Av. at Sea and Space Explorations in Highland Park, reminded me that the tradition of drawing is sometimes more interesting and potent than a completed art object on panel or canvas (or any other medium for matter). The exhibition features three drawings and two sculptures that present an important juxtaposition between implied meaning and interpretive illusions.

Two of the drawings on display are Untitled (TV negation #4) and Untitled (TV negation #5). From afar, the white barrier paper on which the drawings are executed look completely blank. However, upon closer investigation of the works, images of a television screen slowly appear. Both emit a slight shimmery luminescence that captivates the viewer at first glance. The mark making mimics the static glow of white noise that you would encounter on an analog television if the cable went out. The lines are executed with the utmost delicacy and leaves the viewer in total awe. This is T.V. programming that you don't mind watching for long periods of time. In a way, it gives you a kind of TiVo experience where the viewer can stop what they're doing, leave for a moment and pick up where they left off or re-live the same experience again and again. If you happen to be on the east side of town, make time in your day to see this exhibition.

The exhibition is on view at Sea and Space Explorations from June 28th-July 13th, 2008; 4755 York Blvd., Highland Park; Open on Sun. 1-5 p.m. and by appointment; (323) 445-4015.