Point of Departure

It’s rare that I run into large scale renderings in graphite anymore, so Ofer Rotem’s Stations showing at Cain Schulte Contemporary Art was a real treat.
I always find transit stations fascinating. They are spaces that we inhabit only in the interim of a longer journey. Yet the architecture of those above ground are often marked with cathedral-like vastness. They feel like temples celebrating the act of migration.

Rotem captures the airiness of their design, the sweeping ceilings and the buttresses, usually framing his work so that we only see the beginnings of the curves and spans, enough for our mind to fill in the omissions. In H100m he even works in a Ferris Wheel in the background, another structure of steel and glass celebratory of the act of motion. The appearance of clocks and electric signage paired with a lone commuter or two reveals the inherent strangeness of these places, which house multitudes or empty completely according to rigid schedules. The sight of a single stroller with their luggage seems incongruous. I love the attention paid to the paramecium-like squiggles of the stairway wall pattern in Aachen (above).

Also at the gallery is Michael Tote’s What World Behind Those Ruby Eyes. Tote knows that glamor is a word rooted in meanings indicative of both magic and illusion, so his oil painted Fabergé eggs and carriages are blown up to enormous size. He is also savvy to the allure that lighting and photography cast over an image, so here reproduced are starburst effects and the tiny circles of light formed by a lens slightly out of focus. In Untitled (Clover), 2008, dizzy with the heights of excess captured in these miniatures, the blurriness tips over into abstraction, releasing the filigree in waves of tiny glittering, wriggling worms.
The co-directors brought to my attention a small side room filled with small works, many apparently by artists who had previously exhibited here. Walking into it you feel like Lord Carnarvon peeping into King Tut’s tomb for the first time, answering the question about whether he could see anything, “Yes, wonderful things.” I was especially entranced by Will Marino’s metal boxes filled with tightly rolled paper which call to mind the lapidary designs of Klimt.


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