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Uncanny, Unconventional Materials

Jason S. Yi’s sculpture at Dean Jensen Gallery

May. 17, 2016
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What can you do with a bunch of folding chairs, a ladder and miles of translucent red cellophane wrap? This is something to ponder while visiting the exhibition “Jason Yi: Terraform” at Dean Jensen Gallery. Yi’s sculpture and installations are distinctly contemporary but nod to historical reference points like Dada and Minimalism. His lean aesthetic is uncluttered and arrives at that visual effect through the use of uncanny, unconventional material. 

In pieces like Transitory, state 1, a cool white cube is paired with a Day-Glo pink conical form whose surface waves as though caught in mid-melt. The contrast represents the dualities that coexist throughout reality—whether in physical properties or some essential polarity in being.

The place where Yi is especially interesting is in works like Untitled, square, as various textures come to the forefront. Spray foam and gesso are used to make something like a pale lunar landscape, pockmarked by irregular miniature craters. These are placed on pegboard supports—the sort of thing that might be in a garage. Working on a discreet scale, red lines are drawn like rivulets of water or traces of a liquid flow. From a distance it is only a reddish haze, but up close the meticulous patterns take on a meditative quality.

Most of Yi’s sculptures in this exhibition have some insinuation of landscape, but none quite as much as Collision Courses. This is a monumental work on paper, done on the scale of a grand abstract expressionist painting. Sumi ink is used to create a series of flat black forms with the character of a hilly landscape. Through this, streaks of wide silver lines are placed, like beams of light or the strike of lightening. It is simply silver Mylar tape, but made all the more intriguing for its unexpected purpose.

Returning to the question of the folding chairs, ladder and plastic wrap, those are the materials in the massive Terraform—a sculpture that stretches from floor to ceiling in the front of the gallery. It is a powerful introduction to the intriguing landscapes of Yi’s art.

Through June 18 at Dean Jensen Gallery, 759 N. Water St. 

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