Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Shawn Smith + Hadi Tabatabai (at Wirtz)

Alert: This exhibit is scheduled to close on 9/30/06.

Stephen Wirtz Gallery in San Francisco is exhibiting two artists who, except for a shared interest in modularity and grids, are wildly different. Shawn Smith shows sculptures of animal forms that bring pixelation into 3-D. It’s an idea that Tom Friedman has used (e.g., a male figure constructed of sugar cubes), but Smith makes it his own. He assembles his objects from square rods cut from plywood (or plain wood) that are colored with ink.

The most spectacular concoction is a peacock (image at top). Other terrific pieces are a bear rug (image above) and a pair of animal heads (deer? elk?) with antlers grown together (image below). All the work in the show is interesting.
Hadi Tabatabai’s work is also meticulous but to different ends. He creates wall pieces using a grid language that brings to mind Agnes Martin. The dominant color is white (or near white). The materials are wood, thread, and acrylic paint. When thread is used, it is tightly strung across the surface to create lines that hover and almost disappear. Portion of the thread array may be painted to create another grid pattern. Some of the work held a quiet enchantment; but others registered as over-determined and dull. One of the better works was a thread triptych, shown below.

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