This month’s First Thursday Art Walk in Pioneer Square featured a bevy of brilliant works for those who braved the rain. The downpour didn’t dampen everyone’s spirits, as the evening still drew quite a crowd of art lovers. I was drawn to the seemingly “out of focus” works presented at Foster/White, Hall Spassov and Roq La Rue—works that walked the line between pure abstraction and identifiable form.
David Alexander at Foster/White
David Alexander’s exhibition at Foster/White, entitled Land We Have Not Synthesized, presents layered landscapes that push the limits of visual perception. Hidden within the organic shapes and colors, the viewer finds a recognizable space and environment. Alexander keeps alive the history and essentials of landscape painting. In Blanched Trees, Back Water, Alexander provides a strong ground line amidst a shimmering reflection of abstractions. The verticality in this piece is reminiscent of Frantisek Kupka’s Piano Keyboard/Lake, in which the artist fuses harsher geometry with the natural realm. Alexander also credits artists like “Oscar Kokoshka, Egon Schiele, Edvard Monk, Georgia O’Keefe and Joan Mitchell” in helping “[him] understand the reason why landscape painting was important in their time and why it is still important today. They spoke through their art in thought provoking content.”
Ryoko Tajiri at Hall Spassov
Ryoko Tajiri’s Still Life at Hall Spassov Gallery features work that finds that poignancy in the unfocused and illusive. Tajiri’s paintings synthesize thick brushstrokes into a coherent whole, often centering on a lone figure in contemplation. Hall Spassov gallery states, “The artist minimizes detail in a way that abstracts the work and allows the more meaningful information to take center stage.”
Tajiri’s unique form of abstraction is comparable to looking through a kaleidoscope—dazzling colors refracting and reflecting until the whole is dismembered, while still retaining its recognizable forms. In Standing Figure No. 5, Tajiri creates the appearance of faceted glass using a spectrum of colors and the sharp angular features of the central figure.
Patrick Kelly at Roq La Rue
Using only graphite on paper, Patrick Kelly’s Elusive Object builds forms that feel three-dimensional through a unique layering process assisted by a custom-made jig of his own invention. Using this jig, he makes repetitive curved gestures until the graphite yields a an abstract and organic shape with a texture of its own. They defy a clear definition, and that is part of the appeal. The shiny material is mineral and minimal, the smooth shapes feel organic, and the precise technique provides an industrial appeal that makes the work as layered conceptually as it is physically.