For some artists the idea of turning base metals into gold or silver symbolically connects human effort to the cosmos. This alchemical inspiration is found in Jim Krantz GENERATIONS SHARED: A collection of works as tribute to the artist’s late grandfather David Bialac (1905 – 1978). Anderson O’Brien Fine Art in the Old Market presents work by both artists through November 27. The joint exhibition features a shared theme displayed through two separate media, copper enameling and photography.
As a young boy Krantz treasured Saturday visits to his grandfather’s studio watching the heat of the kiln transform the ground glass on the copper palettes. A collection of Bialac’s enamel plates, bowls, and wall pieces have been placed at one end of Anderson O’Brien’s front gallery. These objects provide visual context for the experimental processes explored in Krantz’s prints.
“These images are pure photography,” Krantz said. “They are not ‘photoshopped’. I’m painting negatives, which become the positives, which become the art. This is the only way to communicate the same abstract sensibility in my grandfather’s work.”
The abstract qualities of “Continuum XV” correlate to Bialac’s sculpture shown beside it. The black, white, and gray image appears to have taken shape through an additive and subtractive process. “Pouring enamel paint on saran wrap, photographing the surface tension is deliberate and time consuming,” Krantz said. “When wet the image looks one way, when dry it looks another.”
Several of the chromatic contact prints utilize the force of dark to create the presence of light. The ambiguous images take different forms, allowing the viewer to make their own interpretation. “Lumiere de Coeur,” in contrast, achieves light through its surface tactility. The simultaneously delicate and bold image deftly balances the resin applied to it. The form and material accumulate to create a particularly tender effect.
This balance between created and reflected light seems less resolved in a few of the smaller optigrams installation pieces. Yet the challenge of their process still has the capacity to intrigue the eye. “The resin’s surface on these archival digital prints has the same quality as enamel on copper,” Krantz said. “They have a smooth and glossy sheen.”
“My grandpa’s work allowed my work to exist,” he added. “It’s a legacy, a way to bring yesterday to today, to let someone else take this impulse further. The ultimate compliment is to inspire another person. There was one plate he forgot to take out of the kiln. All that was left was a matte charred edge with a beautiful glossy center. That’s why my work is not always complete. It’s all about my memories. It’s almost like I’m a conduit.
“The French titles are intended to let people discover their own interpretation of what the images mean to them. These images are amorphic and nebulous in shape and content. You develop a process for the concept you’re dealing with.”
This quality is put to striking effect in “Passer.” The ambiguous shapes and layering of space appear to present a simultaneous topographic view. The point of view could be looking up or looking down. Location and position become the metaphysical question fueling the passion which informs this exhibition.
“Perimeter II” is the one hybrid object in the exhibit which successfully combines the qualities of copper enameling and photographic image. The custom black frame helps to intensify the colors in the digital print on sapphire glass, as does the glow of light illuminating the image from behind. The surface juxtaposition of matte black wood frame with transmitted light image is a unified object not unlike any of David Bialac’s enameled pieces.
“The hardest thing is to make things simple,” Krantz said. “It’s an honor to have people come and look at the work.”
Jim Krantz GENERATIONS SHARED: a collection of works as tribute to the artist’s late grandfather David Bialac (1905 – 1978) continues through November 27, 2011 at Anderson O’Brien Fine Art in the Old Market, 1108 Jackson Street, Mon-Fri 10 am – 5:30 pm, Sat 10 am – 5 pm, (402) 884-0911, firstname.lastname@example.org.