Continuing through March 17, 2018
In Jack Kerouac’s 1958 Beat Generation novel, “The Dharma Bums,” a group of children approach the book’s narrator Ray Smith (based on Kerouac) and ask him, “Why is the sky blue?” to which Smith answers, “The sky is blue because you wanta know why is the sky blue.” Fast forward to L.A.’s contemporary art scene and the whole group of fictitious youths would certainly have a basis to wanta appreciate Casper Brindle’s meditative and optically dynamic paintings. This collection of 14 works includes new iterations evolved from the artist’s previous airbrushed acrylic “Strata” Series. The new “Portal” series pieces are airbrushed as well, but this time on linen. The artist mixes into his paint the same powdered metallic granulated “chips” used to make today’s car paint visually flicker.
There’s a kind of invigorating yet insouciant energy at work in the horizontally oriented “Strata.” Brindle adds or accents the iridescent blues, oranges, purples and yellows that he favors with bifurcating horizon lines. The strategy adds to these airy and in some cases cosmic fields a conventional land- or seascape marker that brings the works down to earth, while maintaining an aura of rhythmic, spiritual dignity.
Brindle grew up surfing the beaches of Southern California, where he still lives and works. The artist’s industrial Color Field surfaces together with the glittering crushed metal powder mixed into his paint (which accounts for the leaping pearlescent refractions) strongly associate his work with the Southern California-spawned Light and Space, and Finish Fetish art movements (especially his affinity with the late Eric Orr, for whom Brindle once worked).
The connection of both to local surf and car culture is alive and well in Bridle’s hands. In clever Op Art fashion, however, Brindle flips on its head the perceptual experience of driving. Rather than the passengers’ illusionary perception of a still landscape flickering behind them as they drive, the glittering interactive colors magically motivates the static paintings to quite literally change and dance kaleidoscopically as you walk past them.
If in the “Portal” series the artist switches to linen, he keeps his paint recipe intact. The stained linen, in absorbing versus pushing forth the paint (as the panels do), suggests the influence of Mark Rothko’s work on Brindle. The pearlescent pulsations are still distinctively an L.A. aesthetic; he has not gone full Brooklyn, at least not yet. Blending the culture of the automobile with Far East spirituality has been a feature of the quirky L.A. aesthetic sensibility for decades, so it should not surprise us to feel this here.
Brindle’s use of gold and silver leaf strips in certain of the “Portals” function both as borders (to outline the rectangular linen surfaces) and, when positioned centrally in a vertical swatch, they signal the mystery of an open doorway to — who knows where? It’s a fertile negative space that is left to our imagination. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Buddhist philosophy-based “Wherever You Go There You Are” (2005) encourages us to live life mindfully in a time-unfettered present. It’s an attitude and experience reflected in these paintings. Standing in front of Brindle’s work proves to be a meaningful and spiritually salutary place to be.