Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ara Peterson at Ratio 3 (SF)

Note: This exhibition is scheduled to close on 6/10/07. The gallery has limited hours.

For people who see a lot of new art, one common experience is that an artist’s work sparks a degree of interest but ultimately fails to click. The after-effect is disappointment mixed with an awareness that, at any time, the artist might have a breakthrough that reverses how you feel.

For me, Ara Peterson remains in this category. His new show at Ratio 3 in San Francisco is interesting to see, but somehow fails to launch. I think it's because the work lacks a compelling idea despite the geeky elements that went into its making. There seems to be an emphasis on flashy appearances, a kind of psychedelic dandyism in art.

Nonetheless, the show is interesting up to a point. The quality of construction seems better than in Peterson’s last show at Ratio 3, although I found the forms in the previous show more interesting. The new work consists of low-relief sculptural forms that hang on the wall like paintings. To make these, Peterson has transformed sound waves into patterned fields made from laser-cut slats of wood that have been painted.

Examples of the work are shown below, accompanied by images that show details (one detail is at the top).

In addition, a visit to the artist’s website provides a fun blast of color—like a Gene Davis painting, turned sideways, viewed on mescaline.

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