Marking the first exhibition dedicated solely to the painting practice of Claudia Comte, Gladstone Gallery’s current show of wall paintings arrives at a particularly ironic moment in American politics. As the US government goes unfunded over a restrictive physical structure on its Southern border, the Swiss artist presents her works as coy investigations of physical limits, and the internal worlds that they make possible to express and elaborate.
Comte’s works in the show draw their visual appeal from stark contrasts and gentle gradients, mixing gradually shifting tones in light pastels, washed across the walls, with sharp, undulating lines, drawn both at hard angles and soft, curling patterns. The artist renders these pieces to hypnotic effect, creating vibrant visual spectacles throughout the gallery in a manner that invites the viewer into a meandering pathway through the galleries, and a conscious awareness of the rhythms of the space as they change and evolve.
The mixture of artistic impulses to mark-making and the precise, geometric logic of Comte’s work creates a space where the varied functions of the mind are welcome to mingle, exploring and reading the twists and turns of space from wall to wall, corner to corner. There’s something distinctly natural about the movements, creating an impression of natural forms and phenomena, matched by the perceptual trickery of optical illusions created by the dense movements contained within the space. The surface is turned into a “thing,” as curator and writer Neville Wakefield notes in the exhibition text. “It encloses but rather as a thing in and of itself, vibrant and alive with the presence of its architectural condition.”
In sum, Comte’s work moves towards a sort of ancient cave painting, assembling a densely layered universe that aims towards mathematic principles rather than a historical or archival function, presenting and cataloging the world around us. Rather, Comte seeks to distill architectural, functional principles, the path of a line bound by the mathematics of its own creation, and moving through physical space.
The show closes February 16th.
— D. Creahan
Claudia Comte at Gladstone Gallery [Exhibition Site]