Curated by Elwyn Palmerton
Opening February 16, 2019, 7-9pm
February 16 - March 16
A spraybow is a prismatic effect - similar to a rainbow - which occurs in a spray of water. Unlike rainbows, with their surfeit of connotations, spray bows are small-scale and localized - more dazzling than sublime. Think, for instance, of the spraybow as created in the plume of a garden hose. The mechanics of refraction are partially demystified - revealed as an optical phenomenon. Its appearance is a function of the viewer’s perspective, the direction of light, and the perpetual motion of water.
Spraybows, the second exhibition at Flowers, includes six artists hailing from the Bay Area, New York, and LA. These artists make work which explores light and contingency. They approach art-making with a spirit of playfulness while experimenting with prismatic color, transparency, and optical effects. In Kelley O’Leary’s sculpture, for instance, light is refracted through three different materials: plexiglass, glass, and water. As with these floating glass bowls, structure is not determined architectonically but as a result of fluid interactions and provisional relationships.
In each of these works we sense a kind of procedural rigor - an attention to craft and conception - which, nonetheless, allows for improvisation. Michael Bilsborough drawings exemplify this tendency. The drawings are carefully composed and entirely determined within the context of rigorous single-point perspective. But one detects a certain madcap freedom and delight in engineering these forms. The illusion of volume is created but also, simultaneously, exposed as a ruse - a trick of the light.
These works all remind us that everything we see is always, generally speaking, purely light - reflected off of objects and travelling through our irises and on into our optical nerves. Our brains make this information into pictures and meanings. The artists in Spraybows make us aware of the essentially ephemeral quality of this experience. Visuality is always provisional, transitory, and impermanent: a blur of color against an unstable ground - like light passing through droplets of water.