Art Review Archives:
Steve Zieverink: New Paintings
Byron Roche Gallery
On the one hand, order and movement upon the planar surface. On the other, the sensual, three-dimensional juxtaposition of materials. Steve Zieverink: New Paintings and Sharon Que: New Sculpture, both on exhibit at Byron Roche Gallery, present differing explorations into both structure, visual and literal.
Steve Zieverink: New Paintings
In the geometric abstractions of Steve Zieverink: New Paintings, multiple overlays of gridlike lines, and thicker, freer linear elements traversing the image this way and that, infuse these road maps of orderly regimentation with depth and movement. In #12 (oil on canvas: 25 x 25 in.: 2006), thirty-three white stripes in vertical, and forty-five red stripes at a diagonal, establish a tense grid whose intersection points vibrate with contained energy on the marine-blue background. Relieving that tension are further, less perceptible layouts of vertical and diagonal beneath, growing less distinct with each layer. It is an abstractionist's evocation of atmospheric perspective -- the suggestion of distance effected through diminishing clarity -- and here, lurking behind the frontal layer established by the initial grid, draws the eye into suggestive depths of murky, deep-sea presence.
The repetition of these evenly spaced lines has a calming, orderly effect, with a suggestion of organic rather than machine-made sequence given by the variations in the long, narrow marks, which have the slight off-straight character of a hand-drawn line (the artist's method actually involves using tape to delineate the individual lines in the work, painting against it and then removing it). In several works the delicate grid is overlaid with multiple traversing elements of thicker, more well-defined line. These run straight, at times angling into new direction with a gentle geometric curve, sectioning the grid and implying movement across the canvas and even off it into unbounded lands. In #18 (oil on canvas: 48 x 40 in.: 2007) the smoothly speeding lines curve, stretch and intersect, dissecting the broad, overall grid area into bounded polygons. A horizontally oriented rectangle at the top left, and a vertically oriented one at bottom right, hold one another in balance, while a third at lower left, merely implied by the open-ended proximity of other boundaries, provides an invisible anchor which gives the work a sense of completion despite the lines which exit the canvas at top and bottom. The traveling lines in #22 (oil on canvas: 25 x 25 in.: 2007), in contrast, bound only a single rectangle completely. Its companion is pushed partway up and off the upper left-hand corner of the canvas, and the lines seem to exit the edges of the frames on all sides with some urgency, pushing themselves restlessly off into parts unknown. A second set of lines, this time in red, intensifies this effect with an underlay of further lines that form partial and incomplete forms before departing the picture.
Like maps of urban life, Zieverink's grids with their overlaid lines seem always on the move, ever in motion from one place to the next.
Sharon Que: New Sculpture
From the geometric to the deeply organic: sophisticated juxtaposition of wood, bronze and slate yields a sensual result in the sculptures of Sharon Que in the adjoining north gallery, where the intrinsic qualities of the materials used are shown off and heightened by their melding into a single composite work. Wood has warmth, with visual depth in its direction of grain. Its curvilinear contours bring associations of naturalness and growth, living materials, informal construction. Slate is a natural material as well, distinct in its mineral qualities: the metamorphic stone is durable along one axis, fractures along another, a flinty material of age-old usage. Steel and bronze rise a step above: though they derive from natural ores, they require the hand of man, and the technology of smelting to consolidate. Both carry ideas of weapons manufacture and machine parts. Polyethylene is a purely modern invention, entirely synthetic and man-made, prevalent in both industrial and home uses. And to bring the clock back around, egg tempera, with which the artist adds illustrative elements, is one of the oldest and most ancient ways of placing pigment into a vehicle as paint, and offers a durable, delicate, fine control.
The sculptures have a meditative feel, due in part to the quiet and depth of the dark coloration. In Collect & Distribute (cast bronze, egg tempera, slate: 8 x 20 x 3 in.: 2006) the slate's lustrous carbon surface is played off against the flat, unreflective black of the egg tempera panel. Dividing these two areas (the slate overlaps somewhat to the right) is a cast bronze leaf, which curls metallic, fernlike fronds around its verdigris-green heart. To the right of the leaf, tempera, luminous on the black ground, traces out the green filigree of a branch of plant or vine, from which a shower of dots or seeds cascades into the outstretched palm of a fiery red hand. To the left, a radial pattern incised into the slate suggests dissemination outward from center; the chipped, ragged edges of each line resemble the weathered work of ancient artisans. The implied circular dimensions of the slate rays are balanced against a pair of lightly drawn concentric circles on the right, which center on the source of the falling seeds. These provide an even harmony of circular shapes, pendent in their placement, like the two pans of a balance scale, from the central axis of the bronze leaf. In all there is a cyclical feel -- the rays on the slate are also reminiscent of ancient sun symbols -- of the journey from death to rebirth, from plant to seed and back again.
Where Collect & Distribute draws stillness inward, Telepathy (egg tempera, cast bronze, wood, gold leaf: 61 x 13 x 7 in.: 2007) casts that stillness out, far out, the long black plane of its vertical element adorned with painted white stars. Stretching out and above a wooden stump, its top inlaid with a bronze lotus leaf, the arrangement implies cosmic transmission or connection. Interface (wood, cast bronze, steel, egg tempera: 15 x 38 x 7 in.: 2006) likewise holds the sense of cosmic dance, with a pattern of lozenge-shapes unifying the borderland where the depthful grain of polished wood meets the long black segment, here too having white specks that seem to be stars in the deep sable of space. At left, bronze nubs form the terminal points of lines laid out in a flowchart or tree pattern inlaid into the wood. A star-like area embedded with bronze spheres forms a complementary inlay on the opposite side. The back-and-forth aspects of division and union, balance and diversity, are brought out in the left-right pairings created by this arrangement.
Uniting wood, stone, metal enhances their similarities and differences: warmth and coolness, flatness and lustre, separation and union in these composite creations. The sculptures of Sharon Que bring these elements together in elegant juxtaposition, with the added context of carved or painted elements.
Two differing explorations into combination, structure, suggestive depths. Steve Zieverink: New Paintings and Sharon Que: New Sculpture will be at Byron Roche Gallery through February 28, 2007.
--Katherine R. Lieber