Throughout the month of June at Grizzly Grizzly the artwork of California sculptor John Chwekun and Brooklyn painter Mark Sengbusch is on view as part of the show “Inside Space.” The exhibit is an exploration in the minimal, from Sengbusch’s black and white patterned paintings to Chwekun’s tiny, sometimes barely visible sculptures, both artists do precise and deceptively simple work with their media of choice.
Sengbusch creates black and white patterns that crisscross and overlap each other on his canvases. They provide the most basic amount of depth and are generally very flat when caught at first glance. Any layering that goes on between the bars of Sengbusch’s shapes is definitely second to his fun with optical tricks. The parallel lines and boxes seem to ripple and move, while the viewer’s eyes try to adjust to the abrasive contrast.
Symmetry is also important in the paintings of Mark Sengbusch. Every line he paints is sharp and crisp, and every painting expresses symmetry from multiple directions. There is a high degree of idealism in these works. The painter seems intent on introducing order and structure to an otherwise chaotic and trying universe. This grasping for an ideal form is a long-running artistic pursuit, but Sengbusch also remixes the idea by tantalizing the eyes with his desaturated kaleidoscopic shapes.
In the sculpture of John Chwekun, sometimes it takes a keen eye to even see the work on display; at least one sculpture is made of such fine, transparent plastic (think fishing line) that the pedestal displaying it at first appears completely empty. Most of Chwekun’s work is in this vein but most of it is considerably more perceptible too.
Tiny mesh clippings make up some of his forms. The process here seems to have taken some type of grid-like metal wire and cut it at various points. From there, the artist bends and reconstructs the would-be squares into three-dimensional forms. They seem in many ways like the leftover scraps of another project, but are in fact the simple forms possible by reworking the mesh’s grid. When Chwekun leaves the original squares of the wire intact the sculptures look more like rubble from a tiny earthquake than consciously bent metal.
Another of Chwekun’s explorations diverges from his twisted metal frames into something a little more natural. If not for the gallery setting, one of his sculptures stuck to the wall could be easily mistaken for some mold or fungus. It seems to grow and meld to the wall on its own accord and it has a sandy, organic texture. It is perhaps the least idealized form in the show, which makes it stand out from the hard angles of Sengbusch and the other more structured work by Chwekun.
Photographs do this show no justice, especially when it comes to Chwekun’s work. In the case of his barely visible sculpture, its presence definitely needs to be examined closely and a photo would be entirely useless. There is no substitute for a gallery visit with this exhibit. “Inside Space” is on display through June 30.
Grizzly Grizzly is located at 319 N. 11th St. (second floor), Philadelphia; firstname.lastname@example.org.