Sculpting in Movement: Charles Sommer and the Grid

Image: Active Landscape (2014-2015).

The Hewn Gallery in Jersey City is showcasing Charles Sommer’s Objects and Atmosphere (February 20 – March 20, 2016), a collection of collage work and ink studies that reify the hyperreality of space-time. Thus, the exhibition title delimits space-time through the artist’s collaging.

Objects reveal themselves in strains, at certain instances as conduits to each other. Those that resemble mountains stratify movement’s affect, the graphite surfaces resembling ocean waves wrapped by their fluidity. In several of the Untitled works, the mountains emerge from Atmosphere: through circles or rectangular frames. As landscapes, they impose an undisclosed memory: Monuments of temporality. Atmosphere territorialized.

Geometry, or the delimiting of space, is the ellipse, the portal, of Atmosphere’s plane. In Studies 4, 5, and 7, polygons (circle and the rectangle) assume permanence, and hence no movement, though they appear floating. Not in opposition, but in complement, are amorphous objects that remind me of Joan Miro’s biomorphic entities, pressured by gravitational sources. Hence, these biomorphisms exist out of permanence, but becoming-permeable.

A third element, which is the singularity of space-time expressions, is the Grid. In Sliding Landscape and the tryptic Active Landscape, it is the architecture of sky. In Inactive Portal, it is opaque, the hidden grid on the canvas (as revealed when one approaches certain works). A template not much different from the template that Jean Baudrillard believes is at the process of simulation. What is simulated in Sommer’s exhibit is movement in space-time. In fact, Untitled (Objects and Atmosphere), the template is seen for what it is: a wire mesh integrating space and time, extrapolated out its own parameters, of the canvas. The third dimension as relic. I find that the Grid is integral to Sommer’s objectification of Space and Time, as it presents itself as potential movement with its warpness, like seismographic tracings of something, or actually a virtuality, that already had passed.

Objects and Atmosphere impresses upon the eye a predilection for order. The works themselves are creations of motion: some of the Objects are cut-outs that allow the artist to place them over the canvas according to his design. Yet the variations of solidity and fluidity show that permanence is not a pre-requisite for order. Sommer’s moulds are nomads in striated space, casted in time. For permanence is the silence of movement.


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