Opening on the 21st of January 2022, Maddox Gallery Los Angeles is delighted to present Inner Eye, a curated exhibition celebrating the influential legacy of the Light and Space movement through new works by Ruth Pastine and Sali Muller. With this exhibition marking the first time that both artists have exhibited with Maddox, we take a closer a look at their practice and at the 1960s movement that inspired them.
Originating in California in the early 1960s, the Light and Space movement occurred as a reaction to Minimalism. Where Minimalism focuses upon the use of industrial materials with geometric, hard-edged lines, Light and Space uses space age materials like plastic, acrylic and neon lights to create works that are simple yet emotive. Combining the same stripped-down aesthetic ideals as Minimalist art, but offering a uniquely Californian perspective, the movement is influenced by the glow of Los Angeles’ city lights and the sun/surf atmosphere of the West Coast.
In 1971, artists like Larry Bell, Robert Irwin and John McCracken came together to exhibit at the UCLA Art Gallery in a show entitled “Transparency, Reflection, Light, Space," which was art history's formative introduction to the loosely defined collective. This exhibition would go on to have a great influence on contemporary art with the effects being felt worldwide and prominent artists going on to exhibit in Europe, Africa, and South America.
Over 60 years after Light and Space began, the movement has returned to its homeplace, with a resurgence of Los Angeles-based artists and galleries reimagining the conceptual philosophies for a modern-day audience. With the rise of social media, there has never been a greater need for us to reflect upon our relationship between the self and our wider environment. Yet, ironically, it is social media itself that has catapulted artists connected to the Light and Space movement into fame, as magical lights or clean-cut swathes of soothing colour pop up on Instagram stories around the globe.
One such artist who has benefited from the popularity of the genre on social media is James Turrell. Born in 1943, he is a leading figure of the movement and remains prominent to this day, with thanks, in part, to celebrity collectors like Kanye West and Kendall Jenner. Turrell’s artwork even inspired the backdrop for rapper Drake’s viral music video Hotline Bling in 2016, proving that even if you have never heard of Light and Space, you have almost definitely seen artwork connected to the movement.
STILL FROM HOTLINE BLING BY DRAKE, 2016
Apart from the glass microspheres of Mary Corse and the kaleidoscopic globes of Helen Pashgian, Light and Space is historically a male-focused genre like many collectives from the 1960s.
Inner Eye, however, offers an exclusive look at the contemporary reiteration of the movement through the female gaze in one of the first shows of its kind. Through new works by Ruth Pastine and Sali Muller, we see the continuation of conceptual philosophies concerning the relationship between colour, space and light for a contemporary audience.
Both artists - originating from differing generations and locales - bring their own unique take on the Light and Space movement, with Muller focussing upon space and Pastine’s work predominantly centring on colour. Whereas Muller’s art manifests itself in more sculptural forms, Pastine’s flat canvases evoke the immediacy of colour provided by Abstract Expressionism. Despite the two artists’ work differing in material and construction, the overall concepts explored – the relationship between space, colour and light - unites their art.
Based in Luxembourg, conceptual artist Sali Muller creates artwork that wrestles with the co-existence of the human self and vanity. Using a mix of reflective space-age materials like glass, metal and plastic, she creates an endless multiverse that prompts the viewer to address their relationship to the environment around them. Nearly all of Muller’s artworks are interactive, either through the use of mirrors or through their physical arrangement, encouraging the viewer to walk-through the installation, simultaneously becoming aware of the space around them and a sense of self.
Immersive and interactive, Der Moment in dem sich alles dreht (2019/21) which translates to ‘the moment when everything turns’ is characteristic of Muller’s practice and will be a focal point of Inner Eye. Situated at the front of the gallery, the artwork is comprised of rotating reflective panels that refract and reflect an endless mirage of shimmering light, creating an ever-expanding space.
Known for creating minimalist colour field paintings, Ruth Pastine constructs canvases with seamless gradients of complimentary hues. Focusing upon the relativity of space, colour and light, her vibrant paintings explore the phenomenology of colour by reducing it to its simplest form. Pastine’s luminous artworks are built up with layer upon layer of brushstrokes, with each canvas taking months to complete.
Inner Eye will feature a range of Pastine’s work including her Core Series, Depths Series and her Presence Absence Series, with each work interrogating the perception of influence between adjacent colours.
Inner Eye will be available to view from the 21st January to the 21st March at Maddox Gallery Los Angeles, 8811 Beverly Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90048.