Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Rise of Optical Art: Ricci Albenda at Andrew Kreps

It wasn't too long ago I had my first close-encounter with "Op-Art" in the form of sculptor Robert Lazzarini "skulls" at the Whitney's "Bitstreams" exhibition in 2001.
(image at left taken from Pierogi 2000, all rights reserved)

I was taken aback by the strange carving that lay before my eyes, making me think that I either had accidentally consumed some peyote, or the brain tumor behind my right eye was REALLY starting to grow unimpeded.

Taking the last few years into account, Mr. Lazzarini has made a nice mark for himself in the realm of contemporary art.

But more importantly, it's opened new doors for other artists playing with visual perception-- including my own current personal fave, Brooklyn's own Ricci Albenda.

Albenda's work is truly stunning in its mastership of optical trickery.

Are his pieces caving in or pushing out?
Is this recessed or jutting forward?

I like to stand in front of Ricci's pieces taking in the subtle transitional shadings between each variant of brilliant white.

It really can give one a splitting headache at times-- kind of like a Bridget Riley work, except with full-fledged three-dimensionality coming into play.

For this show at Andrew Kreps, Albenda takes some of his recent mural work experience (including a great piece in Chicago) and transforms an entire wall of the gallery into a tromp l'eoil fantasy.

Where does visual perception begin and end?

Can we adjust ourselves to our surroundings by literally transforming the background into a different dimension?

I like how these works differ from his usual more phallic imagery, (along with a sort of sunken-in fortune-cookie shape).

This time around, I feel as if Albenda is taking into account a gamer's world-- each solid geometric form, each hallway could be a background right out of "Final Fantasy."

I can just see the running valiant soldier hiding behind one of the walls while he waits to go into the next room.

It certainly also takes imbedded cultural imagery, such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" final scenes, into account.

But the use of the blinding white in Albenda's pieces makes it more than just about gradient shading, or turning corners into hidden lairs-- it's more of a gradual increase as the eye moves from left to right in each image.

Albenda's piece included in the Fall 2006 new Boston Insitute of Contemporary Art's "Supervision" exhibition was marred by a cramped space-- too much artwork in not enough square footage.

I felt he had to battle it out with the Kapoors and Hatoum pieces just to get attention-- even though his piece was by far the best in show.

I think Albenda's work is much more suited to a larger, open space such as the special dual room built for the Kreps show.

Take in the close-ups here.

The show will be up until June 16th, 2007.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i liked it it helped me with my art homework ps i gt the first comment yea!!