“Let There Be Geo” at Columbia College’s A+D Gallery is large group show devoted to the current use of geometric abstraction in art. Curated by Elizabeth Burke-Dain, the premise and execution of the show is too broadly based to be useful (though Jason Foumberg’s catalog essay goes along way to making that breadth seem virtuous). Tracking each individual thread through this unfocused exhibition would take far too long, yet the show does provide interesting comparisons between objects that otherwise might not have been seen together.
Jacob Hashimoto’s work entitled Fleeting Memory of Sinking [seen at left, image credits at bottom] and Jason Urban’s Sunset Sticks [seen below] is one such example. Using his typical materials of paper and wood, Mr. Hashimoto creates a labyrinth of translucent patterns painted on kite-like hexagons, stretched via string from wooden pegs above and below the work. Smaller than Mr. Hashimoto’s larger installations, the portrait size makes its thickly layered texture all the more appealing because it doesn't rely on the intensity of installation. In addition, the play of light on the object spreads out onto the surrounding walls. Other works here use geometry to problematize perception such as Jason Urban’s Sunset Sticks. In his work a color photograph of a sunset is separated and spread out over numerous individual wooden stakes propped up against the wall. It is as if instead of glimpsing the sunset through the trees, the trees themselves held the image. Still others crafted their geometry into effusive patterns such as with Geoffery Todd Smith’s intricate drawings.
Other inclusions worth mentioning were the more humble studio activities of Vanesa Zendejas and Sam Prekop. Ms. Zendejas exhibited a cut paper collage and a small assemblage called Untitled Objects [seen at right]. It is a quirky koan-like construction, resembling a rock cairn that may mark trailheads in hiking country, yet the object is mostly made out of wood. Each triangular, pyramidal or rectangular shape displayed its own subtly decided color and texture. The subtlety of carefully considered arrangements also appeared in Mr. Prekop’s black and white studio photographs.
When geometry has been invoked in the past in art it was called for both as an ideal and an underlying essential truth. Though those days are long gone, nostalgia for the point in early modernism is still very high. Mr. Prekop’s studio portraits and Ms. Zendejas’ construction betray none of that older sense of grandiosity but instead present the simple power of our bodily identification with the orderly and aesthetic.
(Image credits, from top: Geoffrey Todd Smith. Jacob Hashimoto, Fleeting Memory of Sinking. Jason Urban, Sunset Sticks. Vanesa Zendejas, Untitled Objects.)