Like a Quad Line kite directed by four different strings, Hellmann’s work is the product of carefully calculated strokes of the hand, “a careful orchestration between the four lines,” and a combination of “equal parts planning and intuition.” An array of sculptural paintings and works on paper, the works exude a sense of lightness while simultaneously alluring the viewer in with their significance, like the presence of a kite in the air.
The lines, folds, grids, and angular shapes of the works echo their carefully structured creation process. For the sculptural paintings, Hellmann begins with models from pliable, flexible material which she then translates into wood. The wood shaping stage is a problem-solving process, a rhythmic puzzle whose repetition is paralleled in the repetitive bars and lines painted on the finished works. For the paintings on paper, the physical process requires less steps of construction but is still carefully thought out in its expression of geometry and dimensionality.
In both cases, the viewer is invited to explore their perceptions of “painting-as-object.” Initially, many of the sculptural paintings appear flat with their two-dimensional geometry, but like relief sculptures, the wooden boards are carefully cut into varying forms that project into space. The three-dimensional nature of these paintings influences the impact of light, as well as the variations of color. In Hellmann’s own words, “these simplified elements [bars, grids, lines, color]…create a play with perception and a vibration between the logical and the unexpected.” The viewer is drawn in with a desire to ponder the physical presence of each work.
A similar experience occurs in viewing the paintings on paper. They are physically flat, yet suggest depth and three dimensionality. The painted forms appear as their own objects, independent of the paper that holds them. As Hellmann puts it, she “shapes each piece [sic] so that it has a physical presence on the page and a tension on the outside edge of the shape.” The viewer’s perception shifts between knowledge of the flatness of the painting and perception of a more complex form. The Quad Line experience is one of curiosity, play, and wonder. Like the poetry that inspired them, each of the works invites the viewer into a direct, intimate, distilled experience of their own perception.
Quad Line will open on Saturday, April 2nd, with a reception from 6 to 8:30PM. The artist will be present.The show will run through May 7th.
Rachel Hellmann is a full-time artist located in Terre Haute, Indiana. Hellmann has exhibited all across the country; most recently she collaborated with artist Jennifer Caine during a residency at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, and for an installation at the University of Indianapolis Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Hellmann’s work
has been featured in New American Paintings, volume 113. Galleri Urbane has previously shown Hellmann’s work in the 2015 show, Déjà Vu, as well as in the gallery’s booth at the 2015 Dallas Art Fair.