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Light & Space art from Venezuela

October 24, 2008 |  5:00 am

Cruzdiez_016_2 Has Carlos Cruz-Diez shown in Los Angeles? If so, not in a major way -- which is a shame. The Venezuelan artist, 85, has been working with color perception since 1965 in ways that would be interesting to consider alongside the contemporaneous Light & Space art of Robert Irwin, James Turrell, Doug Wheeler and others in L.A.

Cruz-Diez hasn't shown much in New York either. I've just come from the current show at the Americas Society at 680 Park Ave., which is billed as his first solo show organized by a major cultural institution in the U.S. At that, it's modest: about 20 abstract reliefs from the 1950s through the 1970s, mostly small in size.

But the primary reason not to miss it is the site-specific installation called "Chromosaturation" -- a dazzling trio of interlocking, snow-white rooms illuminated from above by fluorescent lights wrapped in red, blue and green filters. Move through the space, and the color appears to shift and change. In fact, the shifting and changing is mostly happening inside your eye.

The colored light illuminates the planes of adjacent walls in surprising ways, so that blue appears where you expect pink, green is where blue should be, and so forth. White cubes suspended from the ceiling on fishing line in two doorways revolve on currents of air, adding complications.

Colors bleed into one another, mixing up purples and yellows. And the rods-and-cones in your eyes get saturated and fatigued, causing unexpected hues and tonalities to emerge. Move through the spaces, and the process creates an organic flow of changing color.

Cruz-Diez began work on the piece in 1965, and he first showed it publicly in Germany in 1968. Since then he has altered it for subsequent presentations according to the physical conditions of the various sites.

More photos follow, after the jump... 

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--Christopher Knight

Photos: Christopher Knight

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