ZONE: CONTEMPORARY ART is pleased to present, Disciplined Spontaneity, a group show featuring artists who respond to the elemental allure of randomness and change through collaboration, presentation, materials, and intention. They have developed original methodologies to shape and control open-ended processes. All of the artists in this exhibition are conceptually adventurous, yet have insisted on the physicality of the art object.
John Cage pressed shards of broken glass into a sheet of thick paper, using a potentially destructive act to limn a gracefully embossed landscape. A rare joint project between Cage and Joseph Beuys features two intricate, expressively graphic networks on one large page. The artist/composer Emanuel Pimenta used a recording of Cage’s breathing as the basis for his composition, “Mesostic.” Chance events are crucial to Pimenta’s sound architectures and the unique prints he derives from them. In a work such as “Through the Looking Glass,” Pimenta created a pair of virtual domes into which he introduced a beam of virtual particles that drifted through the structure creating sounds whenever they collided with the surface. A series of prints map the complex, elegantly entwined journeys of these particles.
Synesthesia is usually associated with attempts to define the overlapping space of aural and visual experience. Pilyun Ahn crosses the sensory boundaries in a different way. Her geometric wall pieces, which look like mathematical origami, are made of chocolate with a sensuous aroma. Based on a new formula that melts at a very high temperature and resists breakdown, this chocolate is a new medium, and the artist is in the vanguard of experimentation.
Abstract diagrams, like musical scores, are blueprints for realization in real time and space. Sol LeWitt’s self-renewing formulas can be reincarnated in a variety of situations. A gouache painting of cubes in primary colors suggests infinite possibilities from simple formal prototypes. A two-sided drawing by Mario Merz diagrams a flexible architectural space, a conceptual template that might serve as a guide to one of his installations of organic/ephemeral materials. Jack Sal uses line, material and marks to create a reactive Art. Using formatted and standard sizes, he takes as his subject, in both, his objects and drawings, the stable and unstable. As in life itself, tension reveals energy and dynamics where prediction is modified by experience. The utilitarian geometry of the common chair underlies Marcia Grostein’s expressive fiber glass/epoxy wall sculptures. The mellifluous flow and lyrical choreography of their contours master form in an organic and vital way.
Collage and assemblage are traditionally intuitive artforms, growing out of creative repurposing of transient materials. Jackie Matisse, who collaborated with Merce Cunningham and the Fluxus group, makes collage boxes incorporating stray detritus – tickets, bits of Beuysian felt, foil, photographs – that cohere into strong textural compositions as well as emotional time capsules.
Painter Laura Bell and poet Ian Ganassi approach collage as a collaborative interdisciplinary process, a variation of the Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse. Their ongoing series, “The Corpses”, now numbering around two hundred pieces, began when Ganassi mailed Bell a stained piece of paper with scrawled phrases, to which she added her own images. Exchanges and additions continue until one collaborator declares a work finished. R.C. Baker’s approach to collage is more controlled. The images of “The Terminal Century” are richly layered composites of collage, print, and painting. While the series has overarching themes, recapitulating psychedelic iconography and a highly personal view of American history, the individual works are striking in purely formal terms of shape and color.
The artists presented in Disciplined Spontaneity employ varying methodologies that are rooted in fresh ways of looking at raw materials, and they factor unpredictability into their techniques. Their openness is structured by the still-evolving grammar of perception and creation.