Kamau Amu Patton
Alphonse Berber Projects is pleased to announce it's inaugural exhibition: Kamau Amu Patton. The exhibition will bring together new site-specific light works, sculptures, prints and a single painting to create an immersive perceptual experience for visitors.
When you learn to draw, you are forced to see the world in a different way. It becomes necessary to see the collection of objects that make up an environment not in their imagined, ideal state, but in the visual existence that is available to us. The top of a glass becomes not a circle, but an oval; the edges of a square table, if we extend them, will meet in the far distance. These ideas, of course, are ancient, but each one of us nevertheless experiences their effect afresh when learning to draw; each one of us has our perception irreversibly transformed.
In the past 50 years art has increasingly turned from the illusary representation of natural light to the real application of artificial light. The work of artists like James Turrell and Dan Flavin moved artwork from a representative screen depicting the wave phenomena of natural light - the prismatic decomposition into rainbow colors - into a real sender of electrons and photons of artificial light.
Kamau Patton moves beyond Flavin, beyond Turrell. He creates autonomous, luminous objects that extend our awareness of the active agency of our perception, illuminating our outer landscape and through it, our inner landscape. He calls upon us to realize that perception takes place within us; we are, as Merleau-Ponty says "the absolute source... [we] bring the existence of objects into being for ourselves... the horizon's distance from me would be abolished if I were not to scan it with my gaze." Most of all, the work lives in the expansive dark space of vision behind our eyes: the mental space in which art, intellect, instruction and free play intersect, mingle, and fuse to form our phenomenological imaginary.
Recent fMRI studies show that dreams, imaginings and perceptions of similar things such as faces are accompanied by activity in many of the same areas of brain. It seems that imagery that originates from the senses and internally generated imagery may have a shared ontology at higher levels of cortical processing. Retinal perceptions remain in the eye itself and last for some time, even when the external cause is removed. "In glancing from one object to another; the succession of images appears to us distinct; we are not aware that some portion of the impression derived from the object first contemplated passes to that which is next looked at" (Goethe). Everywhere we look: afterimage.
A shiny red Coca-Cola can bleeds through the first moments following a commercial break, and Walter Cronkite winks back at us from the mirror after the evening news, his shadow form pulsing through us in ever-ebbing flow. In his new exhibition, Kamau Amu Patton takes as his subject those experiences of visual perception that cannot be represented in traditional forms of representation. He instead creates for us an environment in which to activate, for ourselves, an awareness of those perceptual experiences which defy the canvas, but which nonetheless constantly inflect our visual existence.
Kamau Patton graduated with an MFA from Stanford University in 2007 and has since exhibited his work widely, including solo exhibitions at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Queen's Nails Annex, Jack Tilton Gallery (New York) and Machine Project (Los Angeles) and group exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and MoMA of New York. Currently a professor of art at Stanford, KamauPatton is a finalist for the 2010 SECA award.