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Richard Whiteley
Bullseye Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Richard Whiteley challenges the viewer to discover what hides on either side of his elegant glass sculptures.

Continuing through August 27, 2011

In “Encapsulated Space” Richard Whiteley plays a highly evolved game of hide-and-go-seek, challenging the viewer to discover what hides on either side of his elegant glass sculptures. Born in England and now head of the prestigious glass workshop at Australian National University in Canberra, Whiteley deploys cast glass to create smooth, geometric forms that hold their secrets close to the vest. Looking at the pieces from one side, there is no way for the viewer to infer what the other side looks like; often, what one side suggests, the opposite side directly contradicts. Each of the works this exhibition has a hole or holes resembling slits, gills, mouths, or other orifices of unknown physiology.  

“Cone Space” flares out like an amplifier, while “Cavity’s” tight-lipped circle bowls out on its polar side into a broad, thin oval. Meanwhile, “Conical” presents a faux-circular aspect, then surprises with unexpected contours. These adventures in expectation and reality contain epistemological implications. It is as if Whiteley is out to disprove deductive reasoning and show that objects, which may not be what they seem, may truly be known only by direct empirical investigation. More chromatically restrained than in Whiteley’s previous shows, the works here are limited to a palette of grays, muted blues, and, in “Echo,” black and white. Made to be viewed in the round, they concretize and reward the viewer’s curiosity and spatial involvement.

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