IN GESTICULATION, THE SCULPTURAL WORK OF FRANKIE RICE STANDS SIDE BY SIDE WITH A SERIES OF ABSTRACT PAINTINGS BY GIO BLACK PETER AS A MONUMENTAL STATEMENT AGAINST THE LIMITING CONCEPTION OF ART AS CONSISTING MERELY OF OBJECTS ON DISPLAY.
Both artists' work forcibly reshapes the viewer's immediate environment, simultaneously serving as an invitation to explore space in new and challenging ways. Rice's elegant granite sculpture, cut into various permutations reminiscent of doorways, functions as a meditation upon that archetypal place of encounter, the threshold. His curving granite archways draw the viewer in as they dramatically slice through the air, thus folding what might otherwise be considered negative space into the outer perimeter of the sculpture and highlighting the amorphous, and fundamentally indeterminate, nature of all boundaries. Despite existing on the two dimensional space of canvas, no less do Peter's paintings prod the viewer into an interactive relationship, rendering the passive observer an impossible role. Peter's paintings literally intrude on the viewer's psychic space; his abstracted compositions assault the eye with a flood of color, forcing the viewer to look over and under, in between and outside of what is immediately on the canvas, and ultimately to question the delineation of individual objects in order to make sense of the unified whole. All of the pieces in Gesticulation work together to problemetize the historical division of figure and ground, and by so doing call into question the very nature of objects themselves. In looking at the sculpture and paintings that make up this exhibit, one thinks of Michael Fried's 1967 essay on "Art and Objecthood" and his claim that in certain styles of artwork, "everything counts not as part of the object, but as part of the situation in which its objecthood is established and on which that objecthood at least partly depends".* Certainly Rice and Peter's works might be described best as situations in which the viewer finds himself rather than objects which he might view. Indeed, in speaking about his recent abstract works, Peter says that “I want [the viewer] to wonder is it a thing or a place.” By collapsing the space between figure and ground or object and environment into a gestalt of singular situations, the various works featured in Gesticulation force the viewer to think about the relationships in which we interact with our everyday environments and other persons.
*: Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood”, Artforum (June 1967): 12-23. Collected in Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 148-172.