China Art Objects

Samuel Falls

11 Feb - 17 Mar 2012

© Sam Falls
Untitled (PP 3), 2011
Acylic on C Print
30 x 40 inches
11 February - 17 March, 2012

China Art Objects Galleries is proud to present a solo exhibition by Sam Falls.

Sam Falls’ solo exhibition at China Art Objects hones in on the crux of representing time and material by incorporating not only a vision of time itself, but also the emotion translated and the artist’s presence, both of which are so often absent from photographic objects. The show consists of several bodies of work; some are completed and represent present time passed, while others, namely the sculptures, are clean slates set up to record time to come. The materials are chosen due to their ability to expose time, their form and composition are each dictated by their unique material quality. Much of the work has is spawned from Falls’ interest in photography and its documentation of time. Matched with his experience studying fine art, Falls aims to bridge the persistent gap between photography, sculpture, and painting, as well as the distance between artist and viewer.

For this show, two technical approaches were undertaken. The first is the exploitation of non-photographic materials over extended durations to light and the elements to mimic photographic production. The second method is comprised by a combination of photography and painting. Over recent years, photography has been likened to painting and sculpture through a deployment of historic aesthetics in the arts, specifically minimalism and abstraction. Most of these works have failed to merge photography with fine art by consistently utilizing professional materials that are concerned with photographic processes rather than the aesthetics of the objects produced, furthering the medium’s isolation. Falls avoids this dialogue, returning to one about photography. Rather than using the process to perpetuate this photographic modernism, he carries photography forward and links its process to other artforms using common materials and historical aesthetics.

A large red fabric piece was installed for three months in Highland Park, Los Angeles, running the length of a street lot with tires placed all along its length to create an overall composition. The Los Angeles sun faded the exposed fabric as the tires protected and preserved a saturated and unaltered ring of red. While the process is not unlike making a photogram in the darkroom, this piece uses natural light and weather to create an image that is entirely site-specific. The tires themselves are collected from the surrounding neighborhood and chosen for their ready abundance and, in this way, their honest depiction of the place. Though the sun is universal, the faded fabric literally exhibits the inheritance of light in one specific geographic location. These images are abstract in nature; they relate to painting while also depicting an everyday object that is an essential building block of Los Angeles culture.

The colored drawing paper is subject to a similar process, but rather than relying on a secondary object to make the image, a mark is created using the paper itself. Each piece was rolled and put in a studio window for four months: as the sun passes by every day it creates a natural gradient by degrading the sauturation of the paper. The final image is the rendering of the paper at multiple dimensions upon itself, a material that is typically only capable of holding one dimension now presenting three. The image exposes the formal property of paper and its ability to be rolled and flattened without losing its structural integrity. The reciprocal side of these works are the torn and weathered pieces of paper that exhibit their material vulnerability.

Similarly the colored aluminum sculptures create compositions on themselves over time. Falls depics their very form and the metal’s tendency to bend and hold its own rigidity and weight permanently. While the paper and fabric pieces are completed exposures representing the past, these sculptures serve as propositions in the gallery to later be installed permanently outdoors and complete themselves over time alongside the life of the viewer. In contrast to most outdoor sculpture which intend to defy the burden of time, these sculptures grow symbiotically with time and age, the same way the viewer does. They are each fully powder coated with a resilient exterior grade pigment intended to resist degredation, then powder coated once more only on the inside where the shadows fall from the bent angles with the same color paint that is devoid of UV protection. In time, the color on the interior side will de-saturate and depict each unique shape; the sections receiving more light will fade quicker than the sides shaded by the angled aluminum, thus illustrating the shape of the sculpture. As the color inside fades the exterior of the sculpture will hold fast serving as an index to the original color. Eventually the inside pigment will fully fade away and the coat of exterior pigment underneath that has been hidden will begin to appear reversing the process – the most exposed parts will become saturated again and the composition will inverse until the sculpture is returned to its original all-over composition–evincing qualities of birth and death.

The natural steel and copper sculptures take on the same strategy of the aluminum sculptures by using a constant to make the change caused by time apparent. Here, rather than using color and light as the variable and catalyst, these pieces use the actual material and oxidation. For the steel sets, half of the sculpture is rendered in hot rolled carbon steel while the matching side is stainless steel. When installed outdoors the hot rolled side of the sculpture will rust and chemically alter the appearance while the stainless side remains constant, serving as a referent to the beginning. One half of the copper piece is coated in a clear protective resin to preserve its appearance while the other half will oxidize and develop the classic blue-green patina over time. Each sculpture is cut from a computer rendering of one of the torn pieces of paper exhibited. This form was given to these sculptures to contrast the polar vulnerabilities of these opposing materials which have been the building blocks of Western civilization – language and knowledge passed on through printed material versus the strength and power of metal. The different properties of metal become apparent: as the softness of copper allows it to bend extensively, while the rigidity of steel causes it to stand up straight.

The last group of work presented in the show turns more specifically to photography, but rather than functioning as a representation of reality as the medium is defined to do, the photographic element of these pieces serves as the model which leads to representation. That is, the initial step of each work is done in the darkroom by exposing color photographic paper to various colors of light. Here, Falls burns in light over half of the page to make an abstract composition and then processes the paper so the other elements are still blank. He then mixes liquid acrylic paint to match the visible colors on the print and airbrushes them onto the page to mimic the color and form of the filtered light and thus complete the piece. It is the specific colors of filtered light on photographic paper which dictate the painting. Though the painting appears abstract, it is actually quite representational of the reality of the print.

Thank you and please enjoy the show.

Tags: Sam Falls