“Radiant Space” Illuminates Houston with Flashes of the West Coast’s Light and Space Movement

  • Image courtesy of McClain Gallery.

It’s easy to lose yourself in “Radiant Space,” an exhibition of otherworldly, minimalistic works currently on view at McClain Gallery in Houston. The multigenerational show amounts to something like an elaborate exercise in the phenomenology of perception and sensation.

With work dating from the 1970s to today, these nine artists share an interest in optics and the artistic ability to transcend consciousness. Vivid, geometric abstractions, such as Richard Anuszkiewicz’s Centered Square Red Pink 1055 (1978–2005), pulsate with energy alongside humming swathes of hard-edged color, as in Peter Alexander’s soft-focus Ruby Bar (2014).

Meanwhile, Marc Vaux offers a bare-boned ode to color and form in E3/4 (2001). And, of course, no exploration of light and space would be complete without the movement’s quintessential piece: Larry Bell’s Cube (1985).

Nearby, the hypnotic aura of Op Art radiates from Gary Lang’s mesmerizing BLUELIGHTEN (2016) and Christian Eckart’s neo-spiritual, off-kilter Limbus Painting 4 (gold) (2016). The tenets of color theory also arise in Stephen Dean’s Juggler 19 and Juggler 22 (both 2014), which incorporate NASA-designed dichroic glass.

  • Image courtesy of McClain Gallery.

A few paces away, DeWain Valentine’s imposing Column Gray (1975) comes across like a sexier version of the 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith, while still other pieces—this is an impressively broad show, after all—play with biomorphic forms. Gisela Colón’s recent “Glo-Pods,” a highlight of the show, look like single-cell organisms in neon. Or perhaps they’re melted iMac G3s.

Taken together, the works create a delightfully dizzying atmosphere within which to measure and meditate on color, space, and light. Those elements combined can alter and amplify visual perception—an alluring effect that, in these artists’ hands, verges on the spiritual.

 

—Grace-Yvette Gemmell


Radiant Space” is on view at McClain Gallery, Houston, May 7–Jun. 25, 2016.

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