JWR Articles: Gallery/Museum - Almost Nothing (Featured artists: Barbara Balfour, Yam Lau, Josh Thorpe) - December 6, 2008

Almost Nothing

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Art of a different stripe

Those with a taste for art that consumes a space will most certainly want to make tracks to akau. Curator Cheryl Sourkes has brought together a trio of artists whose distinctive forms and styles are presented under the intriguing banner, Almost Nothing.

One component of this tri-part exhibit is heralded on a pair of columns twinned with Yam Lau’s Index. Inspired by scrolls seen in the world-renowned Ryoanji (Temple of the peaceful dragon) rock and sand garden in northwestern Kyoto, the message—beautifully etched in Chinese calligraphy (“In this place there is truth, when I want to explain. I have already forgotten the words.”)—stimulates much thought (Are there any places on Earth where truth exists?) on its own and the subtly frames the work within.

Just past Lau’s craft art are three walls carefully painted in two variants of pale green—from the ground up to metaphorical heavens above, the calming hues wondrously balance the uneven wood-floor whose creaking boards announce the arrival and progress of the patrons while they wander through the magical world, teetering on the precipice of niente.

Once there, the eye is treated to a generous helping of Barbara Balfour’s drawings, Designs for the Anti-Bubble. The white-framed, specifically grouped pieces take on the look of giant crossword puzzles as they interlock onto the verdant background. With tones ranging from historic sepia to inky black, this array of images is in stark contrast to the singular word art and the near-unanimous partitions that are its artistic companions.

Oddly, the liquid-filled anti-bubbles seem too confined in the fixed enclosures, clamouring to burst those shells and float more readily and randomly into the viewers’ minds.

From the proverbial cane (and in this case originally anchored in a circular opening whose function more usually provides the ways and means to power up a video installation—the only surface “blemish” in the façade creatively seems at one with the work) Josh Thorpe’s extreme minimalistic balsa rod (coated in the same shades that deck the walls and inform a highly situated stripe), Stick and Stripe is not only a work in progress, it’s a moveable feast.

During the opening, the multi-disciplined artist experimented with several placements of the slim balsa stick, shifting its shadows and stirring considerable debate amongst the onlookers who demonstrated yet again that art/beauty is in the eye of the beholder. (Your scribe much prefers the out-of-the-hole vertical position.)

For being Almost Nothing, this collage of creativity produces a marvellous bounty of thought and design. JWR

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Curator - Ceryl Sourkes
Featured artists - Barbara Balfour, Yam Lau, Josh Thorpe
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