Enlightenment or Anesthesia
by Eve Wood
"Ultrachrome," Aug. 728, 2004, at Carl Berg Gallery, 6157 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif., 90048
Based on its title, "Ultrachrome," this group show promised to be very, very shiny. Not so -- the title actually referred to the way in which the artworks in the exhibition were made. Artist and Carl Berg Gallery director David McDonald assembled a group of artists who print digital images using Ultrachrome ink. In much the same way that the Cibachrome process revitalized color photography, Ultrachrome is becoming the ubiquitous printing format for digital images due to its archival qualities and exceptional color range.
The show, made up of new works by some 22 Los Angeles-based artists, was at turns stunning and predictable. Carole Silversteins imagery seemed wildly conventional, if such a thing is possible -- simple, yet oddly arresting at times. Untitled (umbrella and Japanese grass) (all works 2004) looked to have been made solely for the sake of beauty, and in these times thats certainly a noble cause.
Other works took more risks. Jeremy Kidd continues his gyroscopic exploration of the urban landscape. Kidds panoramic collages have an inherent difficulty, and derive a tremendous integrity from his ceaseless investigations. In Downtown Houston, buildings appeared to fall in on themselves, illuminated by artificial light.
Annie Buckley's Enlightenment or Anesthesia was also arresting and elegantly seductive. Large purple flower-like shapes (or are they cells?) float among other, more sinister red and white shapes. Is this life in a Petri dish, or just pure loveliness?
Ian Doyle's Refrigerator is both humorous and beautiful. The contents of a crowded refrigerator are laid bare, bringing about an acute awareness that piles of frozen ice cream bars may be a bit excessive. Rudy Vega's images of the tops of trees are haunting and subtle, and proved that modest pictures of the sinuous tips of tree branches could hold their own among the larger, more dramatic works in the show.
Jody Zellen, who has been making good work for years and deserves more recognition, here gave us a vibrant rendition of Urban Chaos: cathedral windows coming in and out of focus, changing color and shape. People in these works appear merely incidental to the power of the facade. Katrin Korfmann's Pink Wall, in which people mill about in front of the eponymous wall, is a succinct statement. It was downright gorgeous and brought to mind the paintings of Ben Shahn.
All in all, this was good work that attests to David McDonald's own sophisticated vision; artists make the best gallery directors.
EVE WOOD's new book of poetry, Love's Funeral, is published by Cherry Grove Collections at the University of Cincinnati.