If you were to walk through the current exhibition at Commonwealth And Council in the heart of Koreatown, without reading the layout guide nor the press release for the uncannily paired artists, you might guess that you were seeing the works of one artist. We are tempered by contemporary artists who employ a multiplicity of materials in 2 and 3 dimensional, hybridized forms. The L.A. based artists Cirilo Domine and Deborah Hede on the other hand are intensely devoted to exploring a focused examination in two very different modalities of our psyche’s interiority that are pressed upon by existing urban and natural scapes. The two artists have visually revealed the predisposed and happenstance routes that our bodies and minds are often forced to take in an ordered succinctness in daily life. Instead of feeling restricted by the represented gridded boundaries from the artists’ works, I felt opened up and a comfort that verged on gratitude. Their systemic and wondering portrayals of the orderly and bent possibilities of linear arrangements, has re-ignited the explorer in me. I can still fail in a series of dead ends, and continue to succeed in trying new routes within my mind and where I take myself physically.
I often journey across our city’s web of surface streets and freeways to galleries with few or no preconceived notions or knowledge of the work I seek to encounter. Prior to cycling to Cirilo Domine and Deborah Hede’s opening from my studio I briefed myself only enough to know I would see two artists’ recent projects.
One of the structural traits I appreciate the most about entering Commonwealth & Council is the approach down the semi-dark hallway from the second floor landing. As you get closer to the spilling light of the galleries your peripheral vision darkens while your focus on arrival to the space becomes heightened.
Though the artists’ opening fell on the first Day of the Dead and the city was energized with airs of frivolity and mystery, as soon as I entered Hede’s space to the left, the aggressive neutrality of the artist’s wobbly, wrapped wire grid sculpture that fused the floor with the wall effectively cleared my head. I was then able to hone in on her framed paintings. he grids in the paintings by no means represented or depicted the square linked sculpture in the same room and around the corner. No, the lines and washy cubes in Hede’s paintings hovered and enveloped the surface over a sequential layering that was not easy to track.
In the side room Hede placed two more wall supported sculptures; the white, tubular Fold and the black, ready-made and constructed Edge Gauge or Step Device. In retrospect, other than Hede’s titles, the non-grid, standing object in Edge Gauge or Step Device was the only obvious reference to the outside world and possibly the artist’s walk project. In this regard, Hede images are so abstractly connected that a viewer’s initial reaction to finding out the works were based on walking outside, could be one of frustration. I would appreciate more clues to Hede’s time and space project on the works themselves. Going didactic, however, could oppose the artists desire for an ephemeral viewing experience not linked to text and recognizable forms.
Entering the larger inner space of the gallery, I was drawn to Domine’s found cloth constructions like a magnet. Somehow the edges maintained a fairly regular format. The inside woven lines contrarily broke up into missed intersections and merging patterns that did not quite meet up. Domine’s fabric lines that continuously ended and began across the contained surfaces reminded me of standing on a canyon precipice and seeing a trail directly across the crevasse and the desire to physically be able to get to the other side from point a to point b. To stop and acknowledge the physiological need for connection both psychically and topographically reveals our curious sensibilities where we feel pleasure in the route that is not impeded or blocked. I used to dislike one-way trails in the forests. Now, I appreciate them because I see different terrains and markers on the return. I think this revelation is what Domine achieves in his two paintings in the back room AND his stitched and assembled works humbly offered to us at Commonwealth and Council. There are always multiple routes to arrive. None are “right” or the “best” because what matters more is the whether or not we discover our continual development along the way that moves us closer to know our purpose or if we even have one.
Photos by Yongho Kim.