Heather Gwen Martin and Deborah Butterfield at LA Louver

Deborah Butterfield, Three Sorrows (quake, tsumani,meltdown from Gretel Ehrlich in Facing the Wave), 2016. Photo Courtesy LA Louvre.

Currents by Heather Gwen Martin and Three Sorrows by Deborah Butterfield

through Jan 6, 2018
LA Louver, Venice

by Kathy Zimmerer
Heather Gwen Martin’s candy hued canvases are a tribute to the pure beauty of line and color. Brilliant reds, purples, blues and yellows fill the eye as linear arabesques take the viewer on infinite rhythmic journey through the surface of her canvases. Pattern and Decoration as a style is her visual precursor, but she updates it to create contemporary, eye popping visual essays. In her canvases such as Cue (2017), she playfully combines warm and cool as a blazing tangerine orange ground that encompasses organic shapes of brilliant magenta and bright blue. Enhancing this study in contrasts is a swath of negative sky blue space accented by delicate lines of deeper blue. Vivid chartreuse is the backdrop for her canvas, Crest (2017), where lavender and magenta forms play against crimson and orange images. The optical pop of color in also evident in Spin (2017), where her blue biomorphic shapes stand out on a ground of glowing red. A vivid yellow jostles her white and black abstract imagery in Drifter (2017), but subtle additions, such as a graceful grey line and a tiny red mark tucked into the curve, balance out the entire composition. Her facility for mixing and contrasting cold and warm colors increases the depth and fluidity of her surfaces.

Heather Gwen Martin “Currents” Photo Courtesy LA Louvre.

The primal horses of Deborah Butterfield are so powerful and spot on, especially in these current sculptures where she references the Japanese tsunami from 2011 with the debris that floated over the Pacific Ocean to the West Coast. Her horses are created from found driftwood that she casts in bronze and they are surrounded by some of the actual plastic and indestructible objects from the tsunami, such as in her large scale installation, Three Sorrows (Quake, Tsunami, meltdown from, Gretel Ehrlich in Facing the Wave), 2016. In this expansive installation, the horse’s patina reflects the lurid blue color of the plastics washed up on shore, while her other horses such as Elkhorn 2016, are given an elegant monochromatic patina of ivory and grey. In other smaller horses she casts the found objects in bronze. In Kokai (2017), the battered cork floats and buoys and an old gas plastic become the horse’s innards, they are cast in bronze but have the patina of the real objects, a striking contradiction. Her horses have a terrible beauty, they are skeletal but bring to mind the grace and lithe power of a real horse and incite passion in the viewer for these magnificent creatures. Her imagined horses are such powerful and beautiful animals that they convey an otherworldly spirituality that is multiplied by the sad and powerful remnants of the tsunami. With the detritus of the tsunami paired with the horse she encompasses both the ocean and the land, magnifying the tragedy of the tsunami and its random and vast destruction, and reminding the viewer of the inherent fragility of our earth.

LA Louver
45 N Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291


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