Monday, March 17, 2008

"The Experiment, " Fish Griwkowsky and Tim Rechner, the ARTery, March 14 - April 18, 2008

If you can get past the unlikely aesthetic pairing of visual artists Fish Griwkowsky and Tim Rechner and settle into the experience of a purely optical illusion, "The Experiment" is currently warping the ARTery with new works by two of Edmonton's best artistic beards.
Not to get too flippant over any curatorial mandate, but these two bodies of work visually clash to the point where it's difficult to digest how the walls are holding themselves up. Rechner's wall to ceiling notebook sketches along with larger structures continue his new path of graffiti-inspired abstractions. Popping against the ARTery's back black walls, what became obvious is that Rechner needs to show his work against black backgrounds more often to stabilize and enhance all of the intertwined lines at work that continue to run throughout all of his pieces.
Griwkowsy's 3D photography, especially his large scale works, leaps out in an equally engaging presentation, but between switching from one process to another, from one overtly visually stimulating work to another, there is something lost between absorbing abstraction and distortion (and vice versa). To continue this flippancy, it is as if the viewer is caught in the midst of a visual grand standing dance off; both have their trademark moves, but you can really only watch one at a time and for a short amount of time. A solo show by either artist would have worked better, but in his own right, Griwkowsky's statues cascading down a hillside and the turning curve of the high level bridge are the strongest works. Bringing out the formal trickery through context of place and time, Griwkowsky makes it clear why 3D photography can be more than just a gag and pushes his work as well as his audience.
Together, Griwkowsky and Rechner are seemingly experimenting with very different subject matters; overwhelming, stimulating, it is undoubtedly the strongest visual exhibition the ARTery has yet to show. But it is because it has also been the riskiest. This exhibition really could have gone the other way, but the ARTery is the perfect venue to experiment. Overloaded, highly debatable, the best part of this exhibition may be its record as a stepping stone towards opening up the ARTery's exhibition possibilities.

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