Formal Alchemy

June 25-October, 2013

First exhibition:

Opens: June 25 2013 from 6-8pm and runs through October 2013

“Alchemy” is the power or process of transforming something common into something special. All three of the artists in “Formal Alchemy” have the ability to create elegant objects out of common ingredients through conceptually interesting processes. In a variety of twists on the tradition of being “true” to materials, Toren, Wermer and Dash exploit physical properties beyond their typical uses. The exhibition bears witness to a conversation about transformation, utility and the authority of pure form.

Amikam Toren (b. 1945) is represented in the exhibition by his Stack sculptures from the 1980’s. Toren’s totemic Stacks involve removing and pulping one side of a cardboard box, adding pigment to the pulp, then applying the mixture to canvas in a way that captures some aspect of the box (e.g. “This way up” or “Fragile”), then stretching the painted canvas over the opening of the original box. The artist then stacks the paintings, both reasserting their identity as cardboard boxes and proclaiming their status as sculpture.

Nicole Wermers (b. 1971) starts with diverse natural and man-made objects, subverting them in formally intriguing ways that alter our sense of the everyday. With Water Shelf #1 and Water Shelf #2 (both from 2012), Wermer turns industrial shelving units upside down and transforms them into shallow troughs for holding water. Untitled (Bench)(2010) is a transparent acrylic box in a branch-like form that contains three rocks that were handpicked by the artist. One can perch on the work but the plastic may scratch, so the viewer must wrestle with their desire for function. Many of Wermer’s works have a purpose beyond their art objecthood, but it is invariably an impractical one.

N. Dash (b. 1980) combines adobe, a material that is rarely used in painting with the classic ingredients of art – stretchers, linen and paint. By these means, she probes and enlivens conventional approaches to painting. In Night Light 1 and Night Light 2, Dash creates a dynamic interplay between the weight and sensuality of the linen and the careful application of hand painting, thus exploring the sculptural potential of the two-dimensional medium.