Lines and Layers: Erin Wiersma’s “The Theory of Line”

October 30th, 2014 – November 29th, 2014
by Danielle Fallon

Wiersma_ExamenErin Wiersma. Examen, 9/7/2014. 2014. Dispersed pigment on paper, 33″ x 31″.

Erin Wiersma’s current exhibition “The Theory of Line” located at A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, New York confronts the viewer with all over black, white, and gray abstract compositions. Consisting of twelve pieces, her artwork holds variations of painting and graphite on paper, both driven by line and layer that take an admirer into other dimensions. The paintings are large (30” x 31”) contrasting the small square (12”x 12”) graphite drawings that hang in opposition along the walls of A.I.R. Gallery.

A first look at the series evokes a chaotic and speedy momentum; however, the depth of this work provokes the viewer to stop and contemplate. Wiersma’s process for her paintings begins by coating the paper with either black, white, or gray paint. Once the solid layer has dried she uses an assortment of motorcycle tools to create webs of intersecting lines.

From thin and wiry, to thick and curvaceous the lines cover the entire surface of the paintings. Her drawings are developed by tracing over diverse types of stone, such as limestone. Wiersma describes her process as slow and thoughtful.  “Limestone, 6/12/2014” is a testament to this, lines become angular and harsh in gesture however, create the same mesmerizing abstraction.

Wiersma_LimestoneErin Wiersma. Limestone, 6/12/2014. 2014. Graphite on paper, 12″ x 12″.

My initial thought when viewing the body of work was:  if I could walk into the image I would be encased within a spider web. Each coat of lines cradles the viewer and challenges them to look deeper. Many will find themselves moving closer towards the work to understand the layers of each piece with the conclusion that there is no ‘understanding.’ One does not know where the first line began nor where the last one ended.

It is this depth that Wiersma’s work relates to Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings or Cy Twombly’s “Academy” from the age of Abstract Expressionism. In contrast, there is a different process culminating in this series. The development for both the drawings and paintings are long, methodical, and thought-provoking. Creating a cycle, the process reflects the manner the work is primarily viewed.

Line is the driving force within this series however, it is the repetitive use of line and the intersections of each layer that leads to the intrinsic creation of negative space. Since there is no segregation between line and layer the negative space allows ones eye to travel freely about the work without fixation to any one gesture. Perhaps, the webs of line that help the eye travel through this series “The Theory of Line” is a reflection of our current age of digital communication, a constant need for multiple interactions without one clear direction.

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