Saturday, July 16, 2011

Conjunction of the Organic and the Mechanical

Promotional Image featuring Future Beans III by Celia Gilbert and Bands #10ab by Wally Gilbert

My regular readers know that I can't pass up a good opportunity to write about Dionysian and Apollonian aesthetic contrasts. Fortunately, the Schomburg Gallery at Bergamot Station has an excellent exhibit of Celia and Wally Gilbert's art, entitled "Beans and Bands". Really, comparing Celia Gilbert's expressive anthropomorphized bean paintings with Wally Gilbert's precise geometric C-prints, one couldn't come up with a better starting point for me. ;-)

The "Beans" of Celia Gilbert are odd pieces. On one hand, they are object still life paintings, albeit abstracted. On the other hand, they are narrative abstractions wherein the anthropomorphized beans play the role of subject or protagonist. Some of the works have is notable lean towards one of these directions. For instance, the Future Beans series trends towards still life, while the Death of Saint Bean has a definite narrative focus. But the works that trigger my interest the most are those that stand in the middle, that cause the viewer to keep on flipping perspective upon the aesthetic statement.

The work that best exemplifies this ambiguity is Beans Lost in a Wood.

Beans Lost in a Wood by Celia Gilbert

Without the title, one would assess the work as an abstracted still life. We would appraise color utilization, texture, and compositional structure to experience the subjective "reality" of the represented objects. But, when the title is considered, we suddenly shift mental gears and, using the same elements of painting, we start discerning narrative significances. Within the same painting, there are two paintings.

Meanwhile, Wally Gilbert's work goes for the full abstraction, utilizing line and color to evoke impressions of transcendent space. Unlike Celia's art, Wally's has no touchstone for human experience. They are cold geometric elaborations, beautiful but alien. Even when they are entitled in a manner that suggests an architectural presence, the imagery remains unrelentingly abstract.

Green Blue Towers by Wally Gilbert

Now, either artist would make for an interesting exhibit on their own, but, when brought together, the experience is compelling and stimulating. From the chaotic and earthy world of the Beans to the precise and sharp space of the Bands, the viewer goes back and forth from the playful Dionysian to the lofty Apollonian.

I love it. ;-)

This is the second exhibit that the Schomburg presented featuring the works of Celia and Wally Gilbert. Here's a vid of the first show, "Faces: Old and New" from 2010.

Here's a link to the Schomburg Gallery's website.


No comments:

Post a Comment