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Art review: Peter Wegner at William Griffin Gallery

May 6, 2010 |  8:30 pm
400.WegnerP.1011_Limits of Language I_1 Peter Wegner’s work tends to be sly and smart, prickly on the mind and pithy to the eye. Using a range of media (paint, collage, neon, sculpture), the Berkeley-based artist mines the interstices between information and knowledge, data delivery systems and real understanding, what is given and what is missing. His 10th show at William Griffin holds some minor pleasures but is less gratifying than usual, less dense with verbal and visual complexity.

Most of the works take the form of painted lattices (enamel on fiberboard), hung individually or stacked two- or three-deep. In “Misplaced Whites,” Wegner hangs side by side two matching panels, each painted white, with a syncopated grid of rectangular cutouts. Wegner has painted sections of the wall visible through the openings in subtle tones of warm pale peach or cool light blue, just enough to tweak the immediate perception of the work as monochrome and uniformly austere. Another piece layers crisscrossed lattices in different shades of gray, progressively darker from back to front, a clumsy but benign evocation of dimensional shading.

400.WegnerP.1005_Alpha to Zulu_300dpi The most captivating piece in the show is the idiosyncratic “Limits of Language I,” a suspended panel that reads like a stained glass window. Wegner has taken found signage, letters and numbers screenprinted on Plexiglas, chopped them up into small square tiles and distributed them, mosaic-style, across a translucent plane. The curved and linear forms verge on recognizability but never cohere, remaining instead a dynamic field of fragments, meaning interrupted. Considering that cathedral windows were traditionally illustrational and didactic, legible even to the illiterate peasant, this work of Wegner’s comes across as a cunning act of subversion.

– Leah Ollman

William Griffin Gallery, 2902 Nebraska Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 586-6886, through May 15. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Images: "Limits of Language I," (top) and "Alpha to Zulu (With Pauses)," 2010.  Courtesy William Griffin Gallery. Credit: Robert Wedemeyer.