Abstract Jewels of Modernism
by Roland Kulla
On Display: May 14, 2012 – July 14, 2012
Artist Reception –May 18, 2012 5-7pm
Fermilab Art Gallery, Wilson Hall
I've used bridges as my primary inspiration for the last ten years. Based in Chicago, I began my exploration with the world's largest collection of bascule bridges. In the last few years I have begun to branch out to other "bridge cities" including Boston, New York City and Pittsburgh. In 2011 I explored the bridges in Berlin, Germany.
I select certain design elements and eliminate background context in order to emphasize form. The details of massive structures reveal the many individual components. What may appear to be a random arrangement of bolts and rivets has, on close inspection, a rigidly patterned logic. Abstracted from their surroundings, the bridges take on new aspects. Some look dangerous, others elegant. The forms are presented in "natural" bridge colors in bold contrast to the voids that they span. They float in light that plays across the surface details. The variations can be simple or elaborate, ranging from limited themes of a few notes to grand, fugal extravaganzas.
The subjects are painted to look "real", but this is a deliberate illusion. I paint an idealized version of reality on a scale that allows the viewer to enter into the structure and appreciate the monumentality of the form.
The bridge subject suggests several layers of "reality". Much of human experience involves the use of mundane things that we take for granted. These works focus attention on things we use every day but may never really see. The paintings celebrate the amazing forms that grow from the simplest elements. They reflect the expertise and creativity of the engineers and designers that imagined their creation, as well as those that provide the materials and labor to create them. Bridges also stand as a proxy for human society. As the nut and bolt is to the bridge, so to is the contribution of each individual in forming our society. Both are essential for spanning the challenges of daily existence.
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