RICHARD REZAC: ADDRESS
SEPTEMBER 8-DECEMBER 8
BLAFFER ART MUSEUM
It is a rare occurrence to find an artist so steadfastly connected to the pure pursuit of thingness contemporarily. With so much to care and cry about, it is hard to stay succinct and fully engrossed in such a seemingly simple thing like looking. Rezacʼs work rests, without feeling static, in the space between looking and seeing. Somewhere between domestic and other worldly, painting and sculpture, image and object, cold and hot. Where the name of it sits at the tip of your tongue quietly and stays there, happily giving you no answer.
Walking into the first gallery, the space opens and the ceiling seems non-existent. A compact candy red form with silver knobs and checks, somehow recalling a car engine in its size and shape, hangs in the center of the space, fifteen feet up. It seems to float up there, weightless, but before I can examine it, the rest of the space comes into view with full clarity. It is immediately understood that everything is connected or everything is alone, for some visual rightness. The chartreuse and white striped object pushed into the corner throws me to the right, moving in toward the two emerald green vertical panels hanging low on the wall, there I pause.
From a distance, there is a perfection that dissolves into a vibration in the objects upon closer inspection. Every part of the object, from structure to surface, is laboriously and obsessively hand-made. The machine-like precision starts to reveal small variations, pencil lines, slight wobbles. Rezac isnʼt concerned with a dustless, glass-like, cleanness. He places that part of his focus on making something that is complete and that lasts, often laying nine or ten coats of paint on an object to achieve total coverage and opacity. Through this layering, the paint seems to not only cover the surface, but feels as though embedded into the object itself, marrying the two like a tree rooted into the earth. Perhaps this crux in Richardʼs practice comes from his upbringing painting bridges. Or maybe it is some dying phenomena of living and forging an identity through the rewards of good work. But one thing remains true either way. Rezac makes a compelling case that if you concentrate hard enough on one object, you can create meaning.
Address brings together twenty primarily recent works. Without the pressures of a full blown retrospective sort of showcase, it seems clear that precise and careful attention was given to the space. As with any deeply meaningful minimal formal work and its arrangement, the experience of how your body moving through the space changes the meaning of the work is given full care and consideration. Likewise, the awareness that through moving an object an inch in either direction you alter that reading, and being sensitive to that, is clearly present. Entering the second gallery, a baby blue and white object hanging on the back wall of the gallery commands my looking. It is spaced almost in the center of the wall, at eye level, between a steel and plate glass sculpture perching straight out from the wall above you. The steel is liberally painted in a stormy blue gloss and the plate glass in a washy high key orange, the form visually reminiscent of window frames and shoe horns. On the other side, four bronze ovals, each varying in surface treatment hang conservatively spaced and measured from one another.
As I approach the center object, the baby blue seems to wave in and out, shifting in vibrancy in reaction to my body blocking and revealing the light. It is made up of five primary components.
The two diamond blue forms kissing to make some kind of figure eight, the two vertical white bands behind the diamonds meeting the wall, the surface of the cast bronze with all its imperfections and irregularities, the quality of the color, and the space surrounding. It is almost some kind of magic trick that through these things coming together, I am made to see them clearly, clearer than I would see them if they were separate. And by seeing them in full, the experience almost detaches from the world. I am not necessarily thinking about the titles or stories, or how the form may relate to architecture or art history. Those are all secondary or tertiary gifts given. I am just looking and being transported to this intermediary space before naming happens. Just becoming absorbed in the incidental marks that remain in the pockets where the paint collected. Later I can unpack everything else, but I donʼt have to. Because somehow work of this caliber, so stubbornly and unflinchingly dedicated to form, always ends up being about where the object can take you and resting for a while in that space before naming takes over. Admiring how so little can do so much.