by Annabelle Numaguchi
It is rare that you walk into a dark room and think “light.” The luminosity of the black-walled installation featuring Bruce Boyd’s Obsessions of an Ex-Vandalexhibit hits you full force. In part, it’s the lighting and in part, it’s the amount of white on his two-toned images.
The black-on-white paintings are abstract and evocative, acting like spring-boards for the imagination. The titles lead the direction, such as in “Deep Sea,” where overlapping ovals look like they are either in the process of sinking or floating. The paint dribbles off the ovals look like tentacles, creating the illusion of a mass of jellyfish.
Boyd often lets the paint run, giving an organic element to his canvases and creating a sense of kinesis. The blurred lines crossing each other in “Hole in the Sky” look like they are in the process of bleeding into each other, and “Elevator” makes the canvas appear to be melting away like a negative under intense heat.
The focal point of the show is ’68, the number of letter-sized images done in pen and ink on foam core and the year of Boyd’s birth. This tightly fitted presentation is hung on a graffitied wall, silver on black. It exudes a subway-meets-MoMA feel. That’s when the title of the show clicks and you realize that you’re getting a peek into the curious mind who has created these clean, old school graphics, both dark and light in context as well as color.
It is impossible to absorb it all in one go, but thanks to some brightly colored cubes along the opposite wall, you are invited to take your time perusing the enormous collage. The variety of subject matter in the illustrations is dazzling, from a bicycle framed in graffiti art to a jetliner crashing to the ground, from overlapping faces (each with a different expression) to a futuristic cityscape. Boyd renders most of his images in clean lines, with a few notable exceptions, such as a flatfish done in pointillism. One image realistically depicts an Asian face, dominated by seductive, direct stare of the eyes, a reminder to the viewer that he is a voyeur. In contrast, another image invites this scrutiny by depicting parallel horizontal lines, the center ones bending away from each other, the way one separates blinds to look out.
Overwhelmed by the amount and diversity of the images, it is equally impossible to derive a clear message from Boyd’s graphics. The only work that breaks from the chromatic scheme is a painting in deep hues of red and blue. The lines look like lettering, and though you feel like you should be able to read them, they are abstract. That painting captures the nature of this exhibit, which engages the viewer because even when you’re not sure what it is saying, you want to stay, bask in its light and listen to its hum.
Obsessions of an Ex-Vandal continues at Moab Art Works through the month of April.
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