On @Retrograde exhibition, Carnegie Art Museum Studio Gallery, Oxnard, CA February-June 2020

What is yet to come echoes in the present and in this section of the solar system the transfiguration of bodies celebrating pathways of perception through shape, carefully developed color, and elevated connections represent the creative renewal and repurposing of place. Synthesizing intimate accents and inclines, the builder/artist, explores spatial advancements through the use of familiar flat constructions opening up constrained proportions – through repetition on these surfaces, line temporality is explored and the cultivation of depth through color considerations and arrangements harmonizes elastic variances.

It isn’t what is heard so much as what is seen or felt, an unanticipated blossoming into an otherwise white interior. In the group exhibition @Retrograde, one contained room offers a sensory surprise. Though the title implies one thing, it is clear we are not moving back – in particular the dramatic pull forward is into an accelerating, transformative space. Beyond an entry without a door, a quartet created by Mela M. entices viewers to float into an optical sonata. That which is emitted strains the eyes, the light bending, shifting from the monumental to the small, and back, myriad directional combinations careening and caressing shards of searing color. The mood is not disorienting, rather a welcome scene of expansion washes over you – voluminous, sweeping large, even as some part of the space is contracting, dashing towards the minute, all the while giddy, electric. But let’s slow it down to experience the pieces, to consider the subtleties unfolding.

Kneeling as if to take a moment to catch its breath, a sentinel at the entry of the chamber beckons from a tower. The form’s spiky adornment colorfully juts out, a small presence, designed to give pause in a revved scene. Lines are racing and tracing in and around its countenance marking memory, counting passages of time in every crevice. As multiple silhouettes beam from its profile, Cathedral Satellite Beacon on the Angular Topography of a Blue Moon consolidates molecules that are optical blades of grass piercing the atmosphere which extend above an urban horizon – it lunges, intercepting, incorporating and coupling kaleidoscopic crystals, playfully reaching out. As you walk around it, small talismanic islands erupt from its landscape, carefully placed windows into the personality of its surface. It propels itself in the direction of another form from where it is gleaning energy, its presence a force anticipating the dynamics of other components in this space.

One object of central balance to the quartet, The Authority of Color at the Speed of Light, is a virtual power house, refracting from within its core a supply of energy sustaining all matter in the room. In its center there is a recognizable icon edging up to the surface: a star pulsating, ebbing out of the uniform terrain, a ship traversing bands of angularity changing speeds alone by color arrangements loosened, and then tightened again by containments of ultra-violets, blues and pale pinks. As it sparkles it is hard to distinguish where multi-dimensional shaping begins or where one mesmerizing, undulating quiver ends. The arms of this pulsar travel high over each side, balancing fused fragments, carried up by variegated ladders; their infinitesimal outlines penetrating deep into the interior. It is extruding from the wall, suspending immersive bandwidths of deep space replicating internally, beating out a ritual for regeneration. Its nature is architectural, crafted and animated with deceptively simple exactness; it reaches toward a neighbor longingly though it may shoot back to the heavens at any moment, the star ecstatic. An exquisitely prismatic instrument is incrementally stretching upward, Escape from Retrograde Through a Shape Shifting Space Elevator with Abstract Quantum Enhancements, highlights a lyrical transporter lifting and descending simultaneously – each access point measuring depths and heights equally, carved geological fronds arranged symbolically fanning a cityscape. Sun rays merge with the buildings and wrap around the blocks exploring perspectives from steep precipices, falling up and enveloping the next location. One segment is a mimic excerpt inserted from another variation in the room, a deep cobalt molded cornerstone anchoring the candy pink firmament. Its’ close relative on a nearby wall merges natural and technical worlds, feminine layers replicating into the deep – in this setting it contributes to strengthening the sequenced steps of the transporter to generate a continuum; a solid pink belt supports this perpetual system, providing stability and the possibility of further replication.

On a wall with tight shadows casting, a thick solid ultramarine descends into midnight, its water/land mass absorbing indigo rubber bands which hold together elements directed back into a central core. Here an intricately arranged city skims the surface, an echo of an opening between the material and the immaterial, where alterity thrives and sophisticated intersections abound. The epic, A Prismatic Home of the New Uncommon Era with Bridges Over the Purple Void Losing Gravity in the Orbiting Metropolis: Geometric Waves, Vibrant Fields and Optic Frequencies, bridges deep surface compilations with utopian overpasses built from dizzying perspectives and complex boundaries. Everything is attracted to an edge, an engaged post historic embrace viewed from an aerial vantage point coming from distant space.

As bodies, we sense the presence of wavelengths emanating from these assembled surfaces pushing and pulling their encoded linear intimacies, expanding razor technicolor hues, glimmering and ricocheting. Hewn layers add heft to repetitions that are the building tools of these pantheist architectures, emitting electric pulses that alter awareness of the environment and their individual elements– shifting. The hard edge of painting merges with the literal edge of construction, PaSColor (where painting and sculpture meet, a term coined by the artist) forms are punctuated by precision and a hint of chance, swell with energy to convey possible outcomes. These intertwined markers place future views in front of us, an opportunity for considering innovative actions and designs as revelatory connections to new states of vitality and vision.

Because of their tight specifics one would think these works would be restrictive, instead the pieces produce room for reimagining the beauty of the conceptual universe – strata gleaned from the provenance of architectonics, storytelling produced from poetical thinking. Surface tensions dissipating, design, sculpture and painting cross preconceived boundaries, amplifying layered components begat from reflections of the world and projected onto characters yet to be imagined. The magic of these object variations distill sensory illusions and ambitiously invite us to peer deeper into and through the lens of time, releasing preconceived limitations and rationalizations to celebrate the unknown and the existence of alternate symbols.

Suzanne Bybee
Artist and Writer
April 2020