In a Rhythmic Fashion
Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen
October 8–November 14, 2015
916 NW Flanders Street
Portland, OR 97209
Thursday, October 8, 2015
Vanessa Van Obberghen
October 9–November 14, 2015
820 SE Alder Street
Portland, OR 97214
Friday, October 9, 2015
In a Rhythmic Fashion
by Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen
For their first solo exhibition at Hap Gallery in Portland, Oregon, the Antwerp-based artist duo Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen have devised P11, the eleventh iteration of their P-series—modular veils or curtains made of identical Plexiglas elements, hooked together with s-brackets, that both divide, distort and reveal (possible) spaces. Their work, always devised according to site-specific considerations, shows how a regular exhibition location can be made to suggest limitless space that shimmers with depth and reflection. P11 is the most recent mutation of their P series, previously exhibited as P10 at the Glyptoteca in Zagreb, Croatia.
The veil repeats one basic increment—a double-sided mirrored, upright rectangle, out of which a smaller rectangle has been laser-cut, off-center, towards the lower right. Disposed in an angular configuration that shears a path in the gallery space—from above, the shape resembles Lambda, the eleventh letter of the Greek alphabet and a symbol for a type of subatomic particle in physics—the veil inserts additional vanishing points to confound the viewer’s perception of space.
The optical disorientation created by the mirroring segments reflecting off each other, the space and also the viewers, is augmented here by five paintings hung on the surrounding walls: chosen at random, these colours mix and recompose in various combinations as they are caught and reflected by the P11 veil, like a hyperactive dream catcher weaving an image of kinetic abstraction. As viewers move through the space, their movements will allow them to encounter ever-new combinations, of the walls, the curved ceilings, the colors lime, violet, ochre, light green, beige, mustard, marine blue… thereby placing them into the position of real-time sampler, mixer and original creator.
The canvases, which are hung horizontally and vertically in a random fashion, are also augmented with abstractions of themselves—shadows of the paintings' own shapes have been painted onto the canvases in a paler shade. This reveals artistic intentions that are self-aware of the contemporary condition of abstraction, positing both pure color and quotation, as they echo modernism in a contemporary setting. While the exhibition’s title and diagonals call to mind Mondrian’s Victory Boogie Woogie and the achievements of DeStijl, In A Rhythmic Fashion offers both an immersive installation and a fluid, open-ended comment on the history of abstraction.
The Antwerp-based duo Carla Arocha (Caracas) and Stéphane Schraenen (Antwerp) have been collaborating since 2004. Their sculptures, 2D works, and installations recalibrate optical and cultural phenomena—they pare them down to their essence and redirect them in materially rich objects that are reminiscent of modernist design and abstract and minimalist art of the Twentieth century. Some works include references to film noir and popular culture, thereby investing abstraction with a narrative perspective. Their modular veils, such as P11, fragment spaces and invite viewers to engage in an optical choreography that is activated by their own presence.
Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen have exhibited widely throughout Europe, the United States and Mexico. 2014 saw the realization of Persiana, a 10-year survey at CCMechelen in Belgium. In addition to presenting their work at Hap Gallery this Fall, they are also included in The Gap, a group exhibition focused on abstraction, curated by Luc Tuymans for Parasol Unit in London, and will be featured Pinta Art Fair in Miami in an exhibition curated by Jesus Fuenmayor. —Kate Christina Mayne
by Vanessa Van Obberghen
idealSTATE seems to bubble from a historical concept so malevolent in nature one wishes they could forget. Yet this distasteful utopia is still stealthily insidious within the imagination and imagery of the world. Where do we find the ideal state presently involved? Is the perception of an ideal state different according to where and when we evolve? For this artistic rummaging it is important to return and to seek out "others" histories to delve into.
In idealSTATE, the viewer becomes the subject of observation. Confronted with altered colonial, post colonial, biased social charts, and stereotypical imagery, the audience is left with oscillating questions one would never set in stone.
Vanessa Van Obberghen is a multimedia artist born in Seoul, and currently based in Antwerp. Major exhibitions include MUHKA Antwerp, Kunsthalle Bern, Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp, Susanna Kulli Gallery and SKOPIA Art contemporian, Geneva.
Photographs by Ashley Gifford