Energy, distilled to its essence, is power, or more precisely, the capacity of power. One of the quintessential expressions of energy is Newton’s experimentation with light focused through a prism to create a rainbow of colors.
At Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens today to VIP guests and runs through Sunday, New York’s Nicola Vassell Gallery will feature a two-person booth showcasing the work of artists Fred Eversley and Alteronce Gumby. Entitled “Color boxes”, the presentation will examine the shared affinity of the two artists for space. For the art fair, viewers will see how Eversley and Gumby are soul mates engaged in an intergenerational dialogue that explores how each artist renders the concept of energy through their distinct use of light and color.
“Alteronce and Fred are two brilliant artists, a generation apart, whose ideas about energy and the cosmos make them ideally suited for mutual engagement,” said Nicola Vassell, founder of the gallery.
Known for leveraging his aerospace career in artistic creation, Eversley creates highly refined parabolic sculptures that captivate viewers with their kinetic permutations of form and color. The transformative properties of color played a pivotal role in the work Eversley created in his New York studio for “Color Vaults”. The 80-year-old artist has spent the initial pandemic lockdown in his New York studio, separated from his production equipment and most importantly from his primary color sources in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles.
[Nicola Vassell discusses opening her gallery and changes in the art world with curator Donna De Salvo.]
Through the use of new pigments he sourced in New York, Eversley experimented with new combinations of colors and processes that expanded his vocabulary. “You end up with an endless variety of possibilities unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” Eversley said in a recent Zoom interview with Gumby. “I’m still experimenting with them. I’ll probably run out of life before I run out of possibilities.
The properties of the dish and its “U” shaped conical design captured the imagination of Eversley from an early age. After reading an article in a scientific journal on the process of rotating a liquid on a vertical axis to create a perfect parabola, he conducted his own experiments using a camera stage and Jell-O until to create his own parabolic lens. This curiosity led him to pursue a career in engineering, starting in the mid-1960s, when he moved to Los Angeles. He found work at Wyle Laboratories, which was hired by NASA to build energy testing labs for the agency’s Gemini and Apollo missions.
After a debilitating injury suffered in a car crash, Eversley has recovered in Venice, home to a group of artists including Charles Maddox, Ed Moses, Larry Bell, John McCracken and John Altoon. During this time, he began to experiment with materials and physics, designing resin molds to create a parabolic shape that Eversley described as “the only shape known to man that is the perfect concentrator of all. forms of energy “.
Gumby’s introduction to art came when he was 19, while studying architecture in Barcelona. A visit to the city’s Picasso Museum, filled with works representing the wide range of his career, from childhood drawings to ceramics, piqued his interest. Although Gumby initially adopted figurative drawing which later evolved into an abstraction influenced by De Kooning, a chance encounter with glittering shattered glass in a broken bus stop pavilion changed the trajectory of his practice. He began to incorporate painted broken glass into his work, experimenting with the idea of deconstruction and reconstruction as expressions of energy.
“All the matter that exists already exists – it’s just destroyed and reformed into another form of matter,” he said. His abstractions quickly turned into cosmic landscapes, created on shaped canvases. He assembles these crystallized topographies from shards of painted glass, raw lapis, red jasper and other crystals that create a mirror effect that reflects the surrounding environment. His paintings are further transformed by the light in the space in which they are presented, and as the viewer walks around the paintings, the colors and iridescent reflections change, evoking the sensation of being in a luminous halo of stardust. .
For his contribution to “Color Vaults”, Gumby will present new landscapes that express the energy between the sun and the cosmos; he shapes the painted shards of glass into mosaic patterns that resemble constellations of stars within a galaxy. The shapes of his paintings are often squares or two rectangles placed together to give the appearance of tectonic plates that move apart.
During their Zoom conversation, Gumby asked Eversley about the difference between engineering accidents and artistic accidents. The stories behind their process and their work highlight the valuable role that chance plays in their growth and development. “As an engineer, you also run into crashes – good crashes,” Eversley said. To which Gumby emphatically replied: “This is also what I call painting.”
Their respective commitment to the central themes of their work while embracing experimentation with materials and processes has led to an evolutionary process which has given rise to many discoveries that call for further investigation. “Each piece is essentially a surprise, ”Eversley said. “Each piece is its own animal.