Earth – Wind – Fire – Ether

Davide Balula, John Chamberlain, Michael Part

The ancient Greeks knew that everything in nature or produced by man  has its archetypes or patterns. Man lives in various degrees of a factual universe as it is abstractly defined. Perhaps then abstraction may be our imperfect faculties adjusted to the codes of the world in which one exists.

More than the surface of things, abstraction is the actual nature of a thing. We like to think of reality as a synonym for truth but reality is not a matter of perception, reality is the nature of the thing as it is. It can exist apart from our comprehension. No knowledge is absolute; the exhaustion of unreality is to recover from our ignorance, to challenge the mind.

In ancient and medieval philosophy any of the four substances (earth, water, air and fire) were regarded as the fundamental constituents of the world. Hence, in tandem with the new paintings of André Butzer we present a dynamic trio of artists who have produced abstraction through a kind of alchemical process. The exhibition Earth, Wind, Fire, Ether takes its cue from two sources: the classical elements, and Yves Kleins ‘Cosmogonies’ which exposed canvases prepared with color pigments to natural outdoor conditions.

Heat applied to iron ore then reprocessed becomes steel.  Early in his career, crushed galvanized steel is the material by which the late John Chamberlain distinguished himself as a sculptor who brought expressionist painting into three dimensions. He used industrial compressors to crush and bend the metal, afterwards welding them into their final composition. They exemplify strength and a transformation of their ready-made components.

Davide Balula is a conceptual artist that works in a variety of media including electronic devices that produce sound, and performance. When producing abstract ‘paintings’ he works with natural processes such as soaking canvas in rivers, or allowing mold spores to form on its surface. Here, his burnt abstract ‘diptychs’ are a combination of burnt wood-panel and charcoal rubbed onto linen canvas. A positive and negative impression of hard/soft edge geometric forms results in a dichotomy of original and imprint (copy).

Ether is believed to permeate all space, including the interstices between the particles of matter. Michael Part’s abstractions are executed by soaking brass or copper panels in a solution of silver nitrate. Once used in photography the chemical properties of the liquid are a catalyst for surface permutations that appear as the stains and pours found in color field painting. Over time the ‘imageless’ image minutely shifts due to a naturally occurring reaction of materials.

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