Zin Helena Song’s Illusory Sculptures Confound Human Perception

Natural light filters into the Muriel Guépin Gallery in eye-searing patterns, creating shapes that complement the painted, geometric structures found on its walls. On display is a set of painting-cum-sculptures by Zin Helena Song—clean-lined, minimalist, and visually pleasing. 

Tempered by sections of white and gray, each candy-colored shape set is somewhat familiar—resembling a tangram puzzle, a paper airplane, or the floor plan of an avant-garde piece of architecture. With Grid Origami #5 (2014) a confluence of gridded lines and rippling wood marks are overlaid with bold blocks of color. Black lines extend outwards in 90-degree angles, anchoring shapes to each other like a construction project’s scaffolding. Other works evoke origami—not exactly cranes or lotus flowers, but crisp and clearly defined like the carefully folded forms.

A maze of triangles and trapezoids converge in Inter-Light #1 (2014), where an LED light emerges from a central crevice. Gray sections appear like shadows, giving colorful areas a base to vibrate against, and each faceted edge a stark sharpness. It’s unclear whether the planes are unfolding outwards or shifting inwards, creating illusions like those found in kinetic art. Here, Song demonstrates skill with selecting color combinations, an interest in integrating electronic light sources, and an enthusiasm for exploring the boundaries of human perception.

Slices of soft orange, blue, magenta, and yellow meet in a pristine pinwheel of forms in Polygon in space #25 (2015). Like Lygia Clark, Song draws polygons together with admirable precision and exactitude; unlike Clark, her color palette transcends the monochromatic. Song’s works challenge easy classification as paintings, light installations, or freestanding sculptural forms—in effect, they are an amalgam of the three.


—Anna Furman


Solo Show Zin Helena Song” is on view at Muriel Guépin Gallery, New York, May 7–Jun. 7, 2015.


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