The first art museum presents an exhibition on light, space and surface

Helen Pashgian. Untitled, 1968–69. Cast polyester resin and acrylic insert, height: 8 3/8 in, diameter: 8 5/8 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Hillcrest Foundation and the Modern and Contemporary Art Council Acquisitions Endowment. © Helen Pashgian. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

The First Art Museum presents Light, space, surface: works from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, an exhibition of sculptures, paintings and immersive installations by a tight-knit group of artists working in Southern California from the 1960s to the present day. Organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Light, Space, Surface will be on display at Frist’s Ingram and Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Galleries until September 4, 2022.

Featuring 50 works by 22 artists ranging from small sculptures to walk-in experiential environments, this visually enticing exhibition explores how the properties of light and space as well as highly polished surfaces can themselves be forms of art.

“This exhibition challenges us to rethink what art can be and the materials artists can use to create their work,” says Carol S. Eliel, Senior Curator of Modern Art at LACMA. “Although these works may evoke Southern California for visitors – its sunshine, open spaces, and shiny surfaces on surfboards and cars – the roots of light and space and the ‘fetishism of finish “are much deeper.”

Artists in the exhibition include Peter Alexander, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Judy Chicago, Gisela Colón, Ron Cooper, Mary Corse, Ronald Davis, Guy Dill, Laddie John Dill, Fred Eversley, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, John McCracken , Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian, Roland Reiss, Roy Thurston, James Turrell, De Wain Valentine, Doug Wheeler and Norman Zammitt.

Famous “light and space” artists and “finish fetishists” are united by an interest in manipulating the medium of light, projected or reflected, to alter the perception of form, architectural space and surface qualities. . Going beyond the tradition of depicting light through painting or photography, artists like Robert Irwin, James Turrell and Doug Wheeler create installations in which real light takes on a form that seems to exist between presence and absence, offering a way to enter a mysterious immaterial. world.

Roland Reiss. Red Edge, 1968. Polyester resin and fiberglass, 62 × 85 1/2 × 1/2 in. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Modern and Contemporary Art Council, © Estate of Roland Reiss, courtesy of Diane Galerie Rosenstein, Los Angeles. Photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

“In the 1960s and 1970s, various Southern California artists began creating works that investigate perceptual phenomena: how we come to understand form, volume, presence, and absence through light, seen directly through other materials, reflected or refracted,” explains Eliel. . “Many artists have used newly developed industrial materials such as cast resins, fiberglass, neon lights and spray paint to tie art and technology together in a cool aesthetic that echoes detachment emotion of pop art and minimalism of the time.” Their shiny surfaces and intense light are often seen as hallmarks of the identity of Southern California, with its car and surfboard culture and bright oceanside surroundings, although artists are in fact inspired by many different experiences to develop their practices.

As audiences at the Frist Art Museum may recall from a 2014 solo exhibition at their Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery, Helen Pashgian has been fascinated by the complex relationship between light and surface since her earliest childhood. In Untitledone of two works by Pashgian in the exhibition, she placed a bent acrylic rod within a cast resin object, complicating the way her nearly transparent sculpture reflects and refracts light.

Mildred D. Field