Johansson Projects Features Modernism That Pushes the Limit

Two exciting abstract painters—Alexander Kori Girard and Rachel Kaye—bring Loop Melody to the gallery.


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Hoop Folks by Alexander Kori Girard.

Photo courtesy Johansson Projects

The empire of art seems to have expanded beyond all borders in recent years; it’s an open-ended, aesthetically pluralistic Wild West, but also chaotic, with 100 contending schools of thought. It’s a relief, then, to encounter old-school media artworks that hark back to the glory days of modernism, a century ago, while still pushing the envelope into the 21st century. Loop Melody, a two-person show of fresh abstractions by Alexander Kori Girard and Rachel Kaye, lives up to its eccentric and fanciful title—melody loops, played backward?—with jazzy shapes and lyrical palettes that suggest, respectively, the energetic pop cubism of Stuart Davis and the witty dream worlds of Paul Klee. The modernist Old Masters are given a contemporary twist.

Alexander Kori Girard may have inherited his “interest in all walks and talks of life—being able to find inspiration or fascination anywhere that you are”—as well as his artistic versatility, from his grandfather, the famous textile, wallpaper, and furniture designer, Alexander Girard. He often visited his grandfather’s studio, before he decided to become an artist, and he now manages his grandfather’s work. “I like the idea of chance playing a role in what I do. I like the practice of taking walks or drives both in the city and nature alike not knowing what I might notice and be affected by on any given day,” Kori Girard said on his process. The sophisticated, abstract, watercolor “floating landscapes” that result, like Crosses and Stars and Hoop Folks, and the acrylic on canvas Hoop Nose are buzzing, vibrant universes of angular-shaped, high-contrast signs and symbols, memorable visual journeys for the eye and imagination.

Rachel Kaye’s impeccable colored-pencil drawings, with their rounded, floating forms, pointillist stippling, and close color harmonies, suggest meditative saunters amid rural settings. Kaye, also a painter, describes them as “a practice in meditation. Exploring color, hidden symbols and motion. Thinking about the seasons and their change in mood. Shadows and the optical play.” The quiet magical lyricism of Blush, Moonlight, Heat, Honey Breeze, Labor Labour, and Hunny Dance (presumably referring to a certain bear) are engaging invitations to ponder and muse.

Loop Melody runs through Jan. 4, Johansson Projects, 2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510- 444-9140, JohanssonProjects.com.

This report was originally published in our sister publication, the East Bay Monthly.

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