Continuing through April 21, 2018
Robert Irwin’s new installation demonstrates that how we perceive things depends on both internal and external conditions. Nothing can be taken as an absolute. Friedrich Nietzsche said “all things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not the truth.” This poses the question, how seriously can we then take any definitions of art? For if everything is in such flux, why then do we interpret art through artistic theory and art historical knowledge rather than by using views outside these limitations that align better with the rest of the world?
As one of the leaders in the Light and Space movement, Irwin has always gone his own way and liberated himself early on from formalist constraints. Here he completely transformed the gallery space to provide a new art viewing experience. His installation has two parts. The first one is presented on the ground floor, for which the gallery’s interior walls needed to be removed to both provide a view to the outside world and to let the California light enter the gallery in order to have it respond to the installed scrim. This is a square-shaped space, divided and surrounded by slender white pillars, the beige scrim contrasted against sprayed and painted black squares. The second part is a wall made of black scrim, and is presented in the darkened gallery space on the upper floor, surrounded by the artificial light from Irwin’s colorful neon tube works, “Faust,” “Shorty George,” “Mint Condition” and “Misty Miss Christy.” The contrast is a reflection of Irwin’s pioneer spirit even at age 90. These inverted representations suggest a comparison between a narrow- versus an open-minded visual rhetoric.