Inspired by Geometric Abstraction


Sanctuary by Sheila Ghidini will be at Chandra Cerrito Contemporary.

Photo courtesy Chandra Cerrito Contemporary

The stylistic revolutions of modernist art led to a notion that each style superseded and supplanted its predecessors: that only the new was valid. It was an intoxicating myth, but shortsighted and false. Michelangelo and Picasso would have agreed with Julian Barnes, who wrote, in his 2015 essay collection, Keeping an Eye Open, “In all the arts there are usually two things going on at the same time: the desire to make it new, and a continuing conversation with the past. All the great innovators look to previous innovators, to the ones who gave them permission to go and do otherwise . . . ” Two contemporary Bay Area artists look to modernist geometric abstraction for inspiration and find ways to make it new—again.

Sheila Ghidini’s new graphite and beeswax drawings in In-between Spaces exchange the chairs, books, and birds’ nests of earlier drawings for buildings, stairsteps, and, again, the human surrogates of chairs. Where the earlier works suggested meditation and transformation, the new drawings, composed of multiple objects, overlapping and transparent, suggest dreamlike environments, or the ambiguous, multi-view spaces of Picasso-Braque Analytical cubism. The profusions of chairs in Sanctuary and A Place of Rest in the Middle of Things seem at first arbitrary, but the mechanical-drawing-style elevations and plans of the chairs are carefully, rhythmically aligned, almost dancing; and the precarious chair in the axonometric projection Observation provides privacy—but inaccessibility.

Sabine Reckewell’s Composites wall drawings made with arrays of nylon cord derive from the Constructivist tradition (Moholy-Nagy, Gabo) of abstract sculpture made with nontraditional materials. Stringing the cord taut between carefully spaced nails, she creates illusions of curved planes or wireframes, suggesting movement seen in time, like stroboscopic photographs. Letting the cords and now nylon webbing drape naturally, forming catenary arches, she introduces gravity into the geometry, akin to painters affixing real objects to illusionistic painted space. Reckewell’s use of colored materials adds a new spatial dimension to her minimalist lyricism.

In-between Spaces and Composites run through

March 15, Chandra Cerrito Contemporary, 480 23rd St., Oakland, 510-260-7494,

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