Magic at Roberts Projects

Magic, Installation view, at Roberts Projects. Photo courtesy of the gallery.

Magic at Roberts Projects

through August 18th

By Eve Wood

Magic is by its very nature transformative, whether it be an actual trick of the eye, or a transfiguration of space and time. Art, at its most effective, is a form of magic, and the work on view at Roberts Projects in Culver City attests to the “magic” of process driven work “united by commonality, and characterized by underlying connections between inner forces and outward appearances, through attributes of analog and digital processes.”

The artists in this exhibition strive for a new materiality, a fresh and unconventional approach to urbanization and the industrialization that is at the heart of our disintegrating culture. No one embodies this gestural response more emphatically than Dion Johnson’s “Sunbeam” 2018, a gorgeously rendered study in space and color that is at once ironic and playful. Barry McGee’s “Untitled (31 Elements with Table), 2013 comprises a series of small paintings of various geometric patterns accompanied by a small side table with the same patterning. Again, as with other works in this exhibition, the space within the paintings is fractured and there is no discernible narrative.

Dion Johnson in Magic at Roberts Projects. Photo courtesy of the gallery.

Other works in the show are more process oriented in terms of literal mark making as in Adam Miller’s three large scale drawings made from graphite and colored pencil on paper. These works in particular engage humor and process in new and compelling ways. The images appear almost shamanic, as though they were talismans for the new millennium, and Miller’s drawing style is simple, yet obsessive. Chris Johanson’s “Untitled (Energy Burst)” 2018, is an explosion of gestural shapes painted directly onto the gallery wall. The work alludes to the power of the sun, yet it also speaks to the idea of harnessing one’s own creative powers. Johanson has also collaborated with his wife Johanna Jackson is what appears to be a more domestic motif with “Untitled (2 Chairs with Table),” 2018. The chairs are upholstered and adorned with yet more shapes and colors. Again, there is no obvious narrative, only the broader suggestion of a domestic story half told.

Not all the works in the show are oblique, and some are more overtly sculptural as with Dan Fauci’s elegant cast bronze sculptures that celebrate the simple gesture. Understated and pristine, Fauci’s sculptures attest to the divine in perfect form. Along the same lines, though pushing the boundaries of materiality is work by Robert Otto Epstein whose painted cement sculptures suggest artifacts sprung directly from The Matrix or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Much of the work here alludes to the color field abstractions of artist like Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. Jeffrey Gibson’s “Take Me with You,” 2018 is tricky to look at as each colored panel appears to merge with the next, creating a sense of unbalance and weightlessness.

Roberts Projects
5801 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm or by appointment



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