For the French poet Mallarmé, the window represented “the crystallization of reality into art.” The interplay between outside and in that occurs at the window pane may be an analogue of the interplay between real and represented within the frame of a painting. Window panes, picture frames, the framing of reality through art… all are concerns that are made abstract, and absorbing, by Portuguese artist Pedro Cabrita Reis.
As though-provoking as staring through a window onto landscape—but containing only glass, raw canvas, or daubed colors within their frames—“The London Angles,” currently on view at Sprovieri Gallery, hang as minimal architectural adornments in dialogue with the space in which they are placed. Composed of structural elements in aluminium or wood, thick glass panes, and fluorescent tube lights with visible cables, they light up their surroundings in various configurations, while focussing attention on the angles that define architectural arrangement.
An articulated area for seeing, the window not only allows the viewer to look out, but lets the light in. Reis’s glowing works also refer to Light & Space artists, who were concerned with perception of the art work and its context, and the balance between light and matter—in particular recalling the neon shapes of Dan Flavin’s installations. The geometric composition of Undisclosed #1 (2008) borders on the form of one of El Lissitsky’s prouns (which the Suprematist considered as a meeting point between painting and architecture), its chrome protrusions extending lines down the wall.
In a text written to accompany this exhibition, Lorenzo Benedetti links “The London Angles”back to the window’s origins as a Renaissance structure, as well as describing how the series faces forward, through “a technique ready to open new abstract perspectives on the concept of space.” Presenting such measured relations between material and void, architecture and art, Reis’s constructions provide abstract sites of reflection.
“Pedro Cabrita Reis: The London Angles” is on view at Sprovieri Gallery, London, Oct. 16th–Dec. 6th, 2014.