Each artist’s respective works initially appear to be antithetical, with one focusing on color and illusion and the other on structure and matter. However, both artists are interested in the ways in which we see things and how each perceived object can be seen from the perspective of a personal history. Jukkala’s work, while relying heavily on color to produce optical effects, employs amorphous shapes that are difficult to decipher. In his artist’s statement, he explains: “they tend to suggest eyes, goggles and periscopes—things to look through or things looking out.” It is precisely this idea of looking that makes Jukkala’s work so compelling; the viewer is never exactly sure what he or she is looking at, and is presented with the choice to mentally enter the scene or simply observe it. Like a landscape painting, Jukkala’s work asks the viewer to discern what the focal point of the piece is and provides many different options to choose from.
On a similar note, Waters also produces works that consider the act of seeing, yet rather than relying on the viewer, as Jukkala’s works do, his works are born from his own experiences. Inspired by many years he spent living and working on a freight ship, Waters injects his works with references to nautical life. The resulting works, sharp, geometric sculptures and two-dimensional assemblages, incorporate elements of the hard-edged style and hints of 1970s-era minimalism. While exploring both paper and steel, and their respective textures, Waters develops a melancholic tone in his works, which the viewer experiences primarily through his use of color; this is where a dialogue between the two artists develop.
Jukkala’s more vibrant tones offer a balance to Waters’s darker ones, and both combine produce a conversation on relationships between viewer and artwork and color and form. On the one hand, Jukkala asks us to use our imagination and become submerged in the canvas in order to experience it, and on the other, Waters beckons us to move around his works and observe the fruits of his own experiences. Due to this intriguing pairing, Fred Giampietro’s VOLTA NY presentation promises a stimulating study that makes the viewer question the way we look at art.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory