James O. Clark is GLOWING at ltd los angeles
by Anthony Pinata
New York-based artist James O. Clark’s current show, March 19–April 16, at ltd los angeles, titled 1993 to 2011 in 2015, highlights his continued engagement with material and light. The pieces on display demonstrate his discerning and subtle use of otherwise bland light fixtures. He bends, twists, and manipulates them with his sophisticated and streetwise hands. For some of the works, such as 3A, 3B, and 3C (all 2015), you can see on the ceiling how Clark simply detached them. The missing strips of paint indicate where the light fixtures used to live. The arrangement of the sculptures in the gallery illustrate Clark’s in-depth understanding of how to place objects in space. He shows us his years of steady experience, transforming these mundane, commercial lighting units into this delicate and glowing series of life size line drawings.
The exhibit is less a series of individual sculptures and more a cohesive site-specific gallery installation. Even though there is some variety between the works, and they are not all of the exact same sensibility and color, the space still feels conceived as one unifying visual experience. Other works in the show, like Tibia Plateau (1993–2011) and You’ve got me (2015), are part of Clark’s long standing practice of making luminous and reflective moments. Tibia Plateau holds down the space with a certain weight, like an elder statesman, given Clark’s eighteen year fixation on the piece, resting its bones in the corner, watching over the younger works in the room, everything else having been completed this year. You’ve got me literally pulls you into the gallery’s project space with its promise of participating in its glowing aura.
It is refreshing to see his work on the West Coast and perhaps others will take note of his lyrical meditations on light and new exhibits will follow in the years to come. It would have been intriguing to have seen Clark’s exhibit alongside the Pacific Standard Time exhibit Phenomenal: California Light, Space, Surface back in 2011–2012 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. Seeing Clark’s work in the vicinity of Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler might have opened a window to a conversation on how a New York artist like Clark played a role in the history of light-based artwork. In any case, California can finally see Clark and some of what he has to offer.