Group shows are tricky to organize: one must find artists whose works share a certain sensibility or conceptual theme, but if any two are too alike, they may compete for the viewer’s attention. Artspace Warehouse in Los Angeles succeeds in finding this balance in their latest exhibition, “Fluidity in Ascending Scales,” in which the titular fluid quality is to be found in several different incarnations.
Nicola Katsikis’s works mark a bold point in the show. She transposes original snapshots of graffiti, natural landscapes, and neon signage into lively photocollages. Juxtaposing these found patterns—at times jarring in their contrast, at others nearly blending into each other—she produces patchwork compositions swirling with color. The resulting collages are sealed with resin and mounted on wooden panels. Each puts forth a new suggestion of space—any one of which may prompt viewers to engage anew with their environments after exiting the gallery.
Ekaterina Ermilkina’s paintings are less overtly urban than Katsikis’s works. Each presents a blurred-out vision of a land- or cityscape, with focused details bringing a tangibility back to their surfaces. Russets, turquoises, and muddy olive tones blend together in vertical, linear patterns in Golden Skyline (2014). A closer look reveals that an orderly spattering of circular paint globs make the top layer of the canvas shimmer, an intricate method that carries through to her other works. These extend to palettes that are less earthy and more jewel-toned, with figurative details like small figures or rows of buildings slipping into the mix.
As a neat contrast to Katsikis and Ermilkina’s respective aesthetics, Greet Helsen’s abstract, expressive paintings feature lovely washes of color. Mountain Lake (2015) is especially beautiful—at once geometrical and free-flowing in its composition. Color is an important—perhaps the most important—aspect of each work, with blues and oranges used the most frequently. And her unorthodox use of acrylic paint, giving it the sensibility of watercolor, provides an ideal platform for taming or intensifying these colors for great effect.
The element of fluidity, for each of these artists, becomes a device for transforming content—whether close reproductions of the outside world or a highly subjective take on it—into a newly-stitched, otherworldly reality.
“Fluidity in Ascending Scales” is on view at Artspace Warehouse, Los Angeles, Apr. 25–May 26, 2015.