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Undoubtedly, art today is viewed more on the screen of a computer or a phone than in person. And yet, the full impact of the art object requires bodily engagement in real time and space, as perspective shifts and details of color, texture, and form come into focus. Fred Eversley’s sculptures—made of tinted cast polyester painstakingly refined into lenses that bend and swerve the reflected environment—generate encounters in which the act of looking shapes our perceptions of ourselves or others.
Eversley left his career in aerospace engineering in the late ’60s to craft simple geometric art objects that use the optics of physics to refract and focus light, a signature approach that quickly brought the artist recognition as a key player in Los Angeles’ Light and Space movement. Chromospheres at David Kordansky Gallery, his first show with the gallery, consists of ten semi-transparent discs of varying colors that he conceived between 1969 and 1974—creating a set of molds for the work at that time—but didn’t actually cast until 2018. All of the works bear the same title, Untitled (parabolic lens), and size, approximately 20 inches in diameter and 6 inches deep. Placed at right angles on white plinths, and spaced so that a viewer can circumnavigate them, their surfaces are slippery reflections that shift in hue, depth, and saturation depending on her position.
We can intellectually understand that the particular cultural lenses through which we view the world shift our vision of ourselves and others; Eversley’s sculptures communicate this idea through embodied interaction. The absence of other people within the stark white gallery lessens the impact—Eversley’s work is at its best when architecture, other bodies, and self-reflection become intermingled and distorted within his sculptural lenses. Antithetical to looking at a screen or even a printed page—which is characterized by solitude and flatness—here, looking (at the object and ourselves) becomes looking through (at others), and vice versa. This combination of transparency, reflection, and distortion renders visible a process whereby cultural artifacts and ideas are in fact lenses that direct and shape our perceptions. In a cultural moment when our subjectivities are so deeply divergent—our viewpoints of the world based in radically different assumptions, interpretations and perspectives—these works compel a physical awareness of how cultural objects, and the experiences they engender, shape our subjectivity.
Fred Eversley: Chromospheres runs from January 12–March 2, 2019 at David Kordansky Gallery (5130 W. Edgewood Pl., Los Angeles, CA 90019)