At Santa Fe’s Peters Projects gallery, “The Sixth Sense” features original artworks by five artists that explore the various ways that fine artists manifest mystical or metaphysical experiences—otherworldly encounters made material. In paintings, sculptures, installation, and drawings, ranging from naturalistic scenes of the supernatural to hard-edge geometry, the artists here vary widely in their approaches to representing the ineffable.
In her spooky mixed-media tableau, Tea and Table-Tilting (2009-10), Ligia Bouton depicts a medium of the turn of the last century, causing objects to move, levitate, or become possessed. Such mystics proposed to communicate with the dead and for a time added some scientific veneer to performative magic shows. In her installation, Bouton represents mystical, spiritual energy via string and ribbons emitted from the mouths and bodies of her subjects, which are portrayed by life-sized photographs.
The paintings of Farrell Brickhouse likewise record moments of astonishment and disbelief, albeit of a more mundane kind than a séance: Tree House Moon (2014) shows a couple trekking through the great outdoors under a multicolored, starlit sky. In thick oil paint the canvas’ surface captures the uncertain but exciting moment of discovery and exploration. In Narcissusita (2013), Brickhouse shows another couple encountering one another, now in a moment of unguarded sexual intimacy. These scenes of rich emotion are heightened by the pasty, brushy application of paint, the sensuality of the brush mirroring the sensuousness of the rendezvous.
On the abstract side of the ledger, Matt McClune produces ambient, spectral paintings of diaphanous color fields. Paintings such as his 2012-14 Untitled (Red) and MMMGrey and Manganize Black (2012) refer to other sensitive, inspired painters like Mark Rothko and Kasimir Malevich. Recalling artists such as David Reed, some of McClune’s paintings closely study the stroke of a brush, magnifying its details to encompass almost the entire canvas.
The brusque paintings, drawings, and sculptures of Eric Garduño, meanwhile, capture the mysticism of Euclidean geometry and the Pythagorean cult. Garduño’s recurring triangle motif, visible in Perimeter Drawing I (2014), Oak 2 (triangle) (2014), and Second Phase (triangle) (2012), all take varying approaches to representing the form and psychological weight of the shape, which carries a number of mystical associations in world religions and cultural traditions. And Jason Middlebrook also draws from a number of aboriginal traditions of decoration and patterning, adorning planks of wood with intricate geometric designs in works such as Stacked and Long Way Down (both 2014).