All Systems Go

Three artists join forces in a fortuitously cohesive show.

In Residency Projects II, the second of two annual
Kala residency exhibitions, Nichole Maury, Yasuaki
Onishi
, and Ali Richards present work that they created
independently during their 2009 stints at Kala Institute. “Pickup”
group exhibitions, even small ones, often make for scattershot viewing,
but such is not the case here, where the three sensibilities mesh
seamlessly, as if by design. Maury’s monoprinted abstract drawings,
Onishi’s weblike installations, and Richards’ photographs of fire
damage explore the collision between the natural and the artificial
systems that we create (and live in). Art in the past evolved to
reflect social and technological change, and now it is responding to
the ecological crisis — call it a grassroots resiliency project.
While the work can be seen as broadly ecological, it is hardly
polemical — it’s more investigation than exhortation, but still
about the issue of our era.

Maury, a Michigan printmaker, presents silk-screen monoprints. The
printing process creates randomly dispersed patches or stains
reminiscent of lakes or craters; around these she draws lacy networks
of polygons. While previous works employed collage elements assembled
into grids, the three “Connected” prints belong to our real world of
crumpled, stained papers (or collapsed geodesic domes) rather than to a
timeless mathematical realm; incorporating and embroidering on chaos
and entropy, they are “visual systems that live in fear of chaos, but
are nonetheless infiltrated by an attraction to disorder.” Onishi, an
installation artist from Osaka, creates large, ephemeral-looking
installations from commonplace industrial materials like plastic bags,
tape, dripping glue, and plastic sheeting. His translucent lashed-raft
grid layers and metaphorical rootlets, sprouts and tendrils, quivering
with every air current, take on a slow, pulsing life for the receptive
viewer. They suggest Rothko’s breathing rectangles, physically
materialized in real space, yet ghostly and absent. “Two Fences
(filtrations)” suggests schematized layers of sod and grass shaken free
of dirt, or any matrix of interdependent systems and organisms. “Ten
receptacles (penetration)” adds hanging basketlike forms to Onishi’s
dematerialized filament cages, suggesting nests and hives. Richards is
a British documentarian/conceptualist who photographed fire damage from
Santa Barbara and environs earlier this year for her series Jesusita
Summerland
, focusing on burned cars beneath mournfully naked
branches; a scorched bit of trellis adorned with artificial flowers;
the profile of a now-missing stairway on a stained cinderblock wall; a
chimney, mouth agape, and a blank-eyed pair of windows standing amid
rubble and fallen trees. Residency Projects II runs through
October 3 at Kala Gallery (2990 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley).
Kala.org or 510-841-7000

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