Julia Fish

conditional light / conditional color : notes to Threshold II

Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago. April 21 – May 26, 2017

Our perceptions are undoubtedly interlaced with memories, and, inversely, a memory …
only becomes actual by borrowing the body of some perception into which it slips.

: Henri Bergson, from Matter and Memory, 1896 / 1908. Zone Books, New York. 1991.

Six works on paper of identical size and similar form, and two adjacent paintings of distinctly different size and appearance, present what may, at first glance, appear to be three independent visual probabilities in this installation. Yet, here they are: hinged to each other by the circumstantial evidence of conditional light and conditional color that informs each work. Taken together, Threshold II offered an opportunity to reconsider specific, interrelated subjects as well as previously realized images, generated from a house that continues to extend the definition of home, for me — and where I have lived and worked since 1992.

Through this time, Bergson’s phrase “borrowing the body of some perception” served as a talisman of sorts. Previous series of works for Entry, 1997 – 2001, Living Rooms, 2002 – 2005, and Stairs and Landings, 2006 – 2009, led to the Threshold and Threshold – Matrix paintings and Matrix, Trace, and Spectre works on paper, 2009 – 2016, all of which served the development of this recent work. In the large horizontal canvas, Threshold Matrix – equinox [ spectrum : east to west ], 2016 – 2017, a schematic translation of the earlier six Threshold paintings, established through perspective sight-lines, are measured-out at actual size in a taut / fraught linear armature. Retrieved and reinforced against the lighter, left field, each threshold’s dominant hue, underscored by it’s complementary color, abruptly went missing as it met the subsequent, shadowed ground.

For the set of Studies / Threshold – Plan gouache works on paper, I returned to architect Theodore Steuben’s 1922 drawn plans for the 2nd floor: to re-envision the same six color-coded threshold sites in alternate form, and to give weight, once again, to the experience of transitional space. In each Plan, realized here at a scale of 1:4, repeated applications of horizontal brush-marks established the “named” primary or secondary color; each complementary “partner” then activated the overall Plan in vertical, brushed colors embedded between layers of the leading hue. No longer singular, each Plan’s named color allowed it’s partner to settle-in; the varied strength of any one pigment mixture thus negotiated a mutual, contingent relationship with it’s designated spectrum-partner and the unrelenting, white ground: to collaborate, enhance, and harmonize; to compromise, or deflect; hide-away or lurk, in stealth; to modulate, or muddy; to protect.

Bergson’s observation regarding “perception” also slipped in unexpectedly in 2009, as the image of three primary and three secondary spectrum colors suddenly aligned with the hexagonal rim of a familiar twin-globed light fixture — the source / reference for two canvases that preceded this, most recent: now drawn, disassembled, and absent of spectrum range — Lumine IV: asunder [twilight], 2017.