Welcome to Bushwick: Codes of Color, Sites for Emotions and Boundary Lines

by Lara Saget

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Mari Rantanen & Shingo Francis. Digital Image. ArtHelix. ArtHelix, 2014. Web. 22 Nov 2014.

ArtHelix’s Gallery I presents the work of Shingo Francis and Mari Rantanen curated by Bonnie Rychlak.

Mari Rantanen‘s work, Codes of Color, Sites for Emotions discloses her personal interest in constructing a visually emotive space. Rantanen is a Finnish artist who has been living and working in Stockholm for almost 20 years. The large painted ovals included in this exhibition are part of an ongoing series of “portraits” that Rantanen began in 2011 while on a fellowship in Rome. The works share the first initial of one of her favorite female artists, making manifest a visually tangible space for women. Rantanen uses paint to examine visual culture; her pattern work is both optically captivating and emotionally charged. The patterns can be viewed as cultural motifs or narrative investigations. Rantanen’s use of vibrant colors begs for an immersive viewing experience, her energetic control of the paint, use of color, interaction between small and large scale, and textural employment quite literally capture the eye. Rich oranges, pinks, reds, and greens bring Rantanen’s oval surfaces to life. Her use of complimentary colors and variations of warm hues instigates a simultaneously spiraling and linear visual immersion.

Location greatly impacts Rantanen’s work; she has spent time in multiple cities around the world, including Rome, Stockholm, and New York. The architectural location of ArtHelix itself affects the legibility of Rantanen’s work and the installation as a whole. Rantanen’s work is installed on a white brick wall comprised of varying sizes of brick. Her oval canvases settle on top of a subtly shifting geometric brick pattern. The brick transitions from a white to a deep greyish brown tone as the wall morphs into the ceiling, exposing the internal raw foundation of the building.

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Shingo Francis. Digital Image. Shingo Francis. Shingo Francis. Web. 22 Nov 2014.

Shingo Francis’ Boundary Lines, installed on the wall opposite Rantanen’s work, analogously utilizes paint as an emotive language. Francis, similarly to Rantanen, has spent his time in multiple cities. He grew up in both Los Angeles and Tokyo. With Boundary Lines, Francis uses line, space and color to create physical boundaries, speaking to the functions and physiological, cultural, and social implications of boundaries. Francis employs a delicate use of contrasting lights and darks to freeze an intangible moment, inspiring a presence of mind that is often lost in everyday life. He weaves colors together in a nuanced manner, which requires an attention to detail to recognize. Light and dark tones of varying sizes and weights meet, breaking up his manufactured darkness and lightness respectively, drawing lines in empty space. The image self-inserts as timeless, neither here nor there in location.

The curatorial coupling of the two artists’ work within ArtHelix allows for a multifaceted viewing experience. Gallery I is a space of visual and emotional entrance, stimulating introspection and optic spatial awareness. The revealing nature of the architectural design counters the aesthetics of the white box, providing additional sensory stimulation. The work included in Gallery I is both visually and conceptually accessible; the use of color, light, and line are not aesthetically or conceptually simplistic or minimal. Just enough information is provided to invite the viewer to settle in for a while.

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