Our initial intent was to present an exhibition titled “Water” in January featuring the paintings by Moon Beom and Sarah Leahy. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, we realized we had a conundrum until an artist e-mailed us with the subject: (Not) the Water Show. Our title was changed and the concept became more relevant and complex with the addition of David McQueen’s kinetic machines and Kathleen Mulcahy’s glass panels.
The paintings by Korean based artist Moon Beom are from his series titled “possible worlds“ that are nature-based abstractions, visualizing a space where reality and illusion crisscross. The swirls of oilstick made with quick movements of his fingers activate these paintings. Shapes are transformed into unexpected seascapes, inviting the viewer into the artist’s newly discovered worlds.
The large-scale images by Sarah Leahy are derived from her photographs of water, filtered through her sensibility. The subject is not the place, but capturing the interaction of light. These are paintings made through a labor-intensive process of applying permanent black ink on a 1/4 inch clear sheet of plexiglass. The paintings’ physicality slowly grows through the repetitious marking, building up to a surface with a luminous depth and density. Darkness is an accumulation of ink, while light is conveyed through transparency.
David McQueen’s machines employ elaborately constructed bureaucracies of parts to re-present simpler singular events: an ocean swell, a flock of birds, or a sleeping dog. These minor events, however, are approximations, and in their architecture they become dark homologues of their natural counterparts. That flock of birds stutters and stops, the sleeping dog is also a beached whale and a ship run aground, and that ocean swell reminds us of an ever-rising tide - at once both fantastic and tragic.
Kathleen Mulcahy’s glass panels imitate the look of liquid elements in nature. But there is nothing of nature’s seemingly random behavior in these compositions. Instead, Mulcahy simplifies the irregularity of organic shapes to create controlled arrangements. Her glass elements may be prompted by something observed in nature, but they have been refined to a purified geometric form carefully set in a controlled composition. Works in this series involve hot-worked and flame-worked glass shapes attached to slumped and acid etched plate glass backed by a fabricated steel sheet.The result calls to mind levees or floodgates meant to manage or prevent the flow of water.
Moon Beom was selected by Saatchi Gallery to be included in the highly competitive exhibition “Korean Eye” that was on view during the 2012 London Summer Olympics. David McQueen won a 2011 NYFA fellowship in Sculpture. Sarah Leahy was also the recipient of a NYFA fellowship in Drawing. Kathleen Mulcahy has won numerous awards including grants from the NEA, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and a Fulbright.