Rhona Hoffman Gallery is pleased to present The Charm of Quasi-Parallel Lines, a group exhibition of ten artists who explore the permeable borders between tactility and visibility. Delving into the gallery’s history as a Chicago venue for advanced art from 1976 until the present, the show sets up encounters between postwar and contemporary artists working in drawing and sculpture.
The Visible and The Invisible, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s final, unfinished book, examines the relationship between touch and vision. He describes these sensory experiences as maps: “the two maps are complete, and yet they do not merge into one.” They are similar, yet fundamentally distinct, ways of making sense of a world of objects. An object can be touched and therefore tangible or it may be seen, and therefore visible. Art can insist on the rift between these two possibilities by prying apart surface and image, or material and line.
In delicate and precise interventions, the historical artists in this show use the grid, one of the key forms of modernist painting, as both foundation and critical focus. The German-born Gertrude Goldschmidt, known as Gego, played with this rational form in her adopted country of Venezuela. Having once written that she wanted to “dissolve these surfaces into lines,” her Dibujos sin papel (Paperless Drawings) alter or weaken the grid while casting shadows—dematerialized forms—onto gallery walls. For North Americans such as Fred Sandback, Sol LeWitt, and Robert Ryman, works on paper condense their larger bodies of work—sustained engagements with the language of minimalism and conceptual art—into more intimate registers.
Sited on opposing walls in the front gallery, Gaylen Gerber’s work literally and metaphorically acts as the ground for souvenirs from an earlier installation by Daniel Buren. Interested in the latent referential potential of these souvenirs, Gerber has shaped artworks that both skirt and confront the idea of permeability in an artist’s work and practice.
German-born, New York-based artist Rey Akdogan pairs everyday materials such as carpet with colored gels used for lighting in cinema. The humble scale and orientation of her sculpture contrasts the imposing scale of minimalism and postminimalism that was embraced by Californian Robert Overby, among many others. Cast directly from a domestic environment, his impressively haptic 4 Square-Scrap Painting is both an index of a site and evidence of his process.
Fernanda Gomes and Guillaume Leblon offer different sorts of juxtapositions, located at the juncture of surface and site. Based in Rio de Janeiro, Gomes creates paintings and sculptures that are made of found objects painted with multiple shades of whites or natural tones, offering a monochromatic ensemble. Her minute structure made of matchboxes could not be farther from Leblon’s elongated brass and glass sculptures, yet they share in common a structural quality that allows them to be part of the whole, embracing the gallery walls and become a support for the space.
In Frustrated Total Internal Reflection, Karthik Pandian theatricalizes the tension between improvisation and structure. Drawn from an on-going project based on a shoot the artist produced in a Chicago black box theater, the painting conforms to the size (48 ¼ x 38 ½ inches) of Jackson Pollock’s White Light, 1954. Suspended a foot from the wall and projecting a disorienting shadow behind it, the work speaks to how abstraction continues to push beyond itself, out of the artist, toward history, and away from the viewer.
Rhona Hoffman Gallery is located at 118 North Peoria Street, Chicago. Gallery hours are Tuesday–Friday, 10 am–5:30 pm, Saturday 11 am–5:30pm. The exhibition is free and open to the public. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.