CASPER BRINDLE: AURA & STRATA
William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, thru Nov 12
By PETER FRANK, NOV. 2016
A native of Los Angeles, a surfer, and one-time studio assistant to the late, underrated Light-and-Space painter Eric Orr, Casper Brindle naturally aligns himself with the quintessentially southern-California minimalist movement. His emphasis on luminosity and surface does bind Brindle to Light-and-Space, but a couple of the most salient aspects of his work take Brindle into much more effulgent realms of painterly experience, especially now that he is working in (or at least presenting) two series rather than one.
Of the series Brindle exhibits currently, one – the Strata – continues his standardized-format, high-gloss approach to painting. As the name of the series implies, the Strata consist of gradated horizontal bands of color. Unusual in this approach, however, is Brindle’s emphasis on a central band, a horizon line so prominent, so distinct from the other bands that it forces us to read the compositions, however barren of detail, as land- or seascapes. Similarly, the new series, the Auras, form themselves around floating vertical bands. As all the Auras are composed of different shades of white and gather halation around and even in the bands, the bands seem portals to a different visual dimension.
The contrasts between the two series, then, are formal: the Strata read horizontally, the Auras organize vertically, the Strata depend on vast arrays of color, the Auras depend on its absence. What is most significant about both these series, and the point Brindle has reached with them, however, is not the evident format(s) but the optical phenomena that free the eye from superficial composition and allow it – or, if you would, force it – into a whole other pictorial reading. Both the Strata and the Auras set up relatively conventional conditions for our eyes to apprehend recessional space where there isn’t any – and to do it not through orthogonal lines, as Alberti, et. al., did it in the Renaissance, but through light and color acting within, and upon, elemental arrangements. The horizon lines in the Strata are so dynamic, they seem to crease the visual field physically, convecting the atmosphere so as to suck us deep inside – almost through – the painting. The looming, vibrant Auras, in turn, seem interrupted by other looming, vibrant spaces, windows cut improbably into nebulous membranes that themselves constitute membranes of and on a whole other plane.
Brindle captures the spirit of Light-and-Space less in his reductive formats than in his trompe-l’oeil effects; he demonstrates that the heart of the Light-and-Space aesthetic, even ethos, is the questioning of visual certainty. Like Orr’s work, Robert Irwin’s, and so many others’, Brindle’s painting challenges the empiricism of, say, east coast minimalism, preferring instead to lead the eye spectacularly astray. Brindle’s art both declares “What you see is what you see” and then asks, “Are you sure you’re seeing what you’re seeing?” All the while, the eye delights in the ruse – and the retinal trickery becomes revelatory. Art, Brindle and his Light-and-Space brethren aver, need not be believed to be understood. WM
PETER FRANK is an art critic, curator, and editor based in Los Angeles, where he serves as Associate Editor of Fabrik Magazine. He began his career in his native New York, where he wrote for The Village Voice and The SoHo Weekly News and organized exhibitions for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Alternative Museum. He is former Senior Curator at the Riverside (CA) Art Museum and former editor of Visions Art Quarterly and THEmagazine Los Angeles, and was art critic for LA Weekly and Angeleno Magazine. He has worked curatorially for Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and many other national and international venues. (Photo: Eric Minh Swenson)
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