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Light Matters/PDX Contemporary
Lisa Radon

For the complete article, see the July/August 2011 issue of Art Ltd Magazine.

It’s per­haps best to start in the back cor­ner of the sec­ond gallery devoted to Johannes Girardoni’s “Light Mat­ters” at PDX Con­tem­po­rary Art. It is there that Drip­box — Yel­low White is installed in a small white alcove. It is there that the reflec­tion of light bounc­ing off the butter-yellow wax thickly coat­ing the rec­tan­gu­lar vol­ume on a rough, grey wood box sub­tly col­ors the white of the walls and ceil­ing as if Girar­doni had cap­tured the scope of the pro­gram of a Car­los Cruz-Diaz or James Tur­rell and embod­ied it in a sculp­tural object. Drip­box — Yel­low White demon­strates the power of light inter­act­ing with pig­ment: an effect high­lighted in the series of works–made of thick, mono­chro­matic beeswax poured over weath­ered wood forms includ­ing curved trough, block and gate–shown in the first gallery under more con­ven­tional cir­cum­stances, as object rather than instal­la­tion. The rough nature of the wood and the sloppy drips of the wax smartly play against the smooth wax sur­faces’ visual legacy of fin­ish fetish-ism. With absolutely noth­ing in com­mon with pre­cious encaus­tic paint­ing but the deli­cious smell of the beeswax, Girar­doni seems to ask, what if we took most of the paint­ing out of paint­ing and most of the sculp­ture out of sculp­ture? What would remain? As an end­point, or per­haps naked coun­ter­point to the wax-drenched forms, Girar­doni leans a wood frame against one wall, let­ting the gallery light­ing com­plete the shad­owed geom­e­try of the piece to serve as a stark reminder of the appa­ra­tus of visual per­cep­tion and the role light plays in it all.

Johannes Girar­doni, Drip­box — Yel­low White.
Beeswax, pig­ment, wood.
30.5 x 36 x 9 in. 2008.
Photo: cour­tesy PDX Con­tem­po­rary Art.

A sec­ond series, Exposed Icon, con­sists of large-scale pho­tos of the flip­side of adver­tis­ing bill­boards in desert and city, as if to point out their ubiq­uity while refus­ing to con­sume their visual pitches. The images are lay­ered with dig­i­tally cre­ated dou­ble expo­sures; the ghosted sec­ond images off­set enough to make one feel as though one’s eyes are cross­ing. These images are over­layed with screened-back blocks of color and painted forms that echo those of the billboard’s out­lines, trans­form­ing odd­ball road­side pho­tos into archi­tec­tural stud­ies in form.prover­bial flame, then singes you with a glimpse of your own irre­deemable superficiality.

Art Ltd Magazine