The artist’s fascination began with a series of photographs taken from an airplane. The obscure white landscape of Antarctica, vast and previously indecipherable, was once an unreadable expanse. Before the development of trimetrogon aerial photography, there was no way to map the forbidding panorama, since the cartographic traditions of other continents could not apply to the immeasurable exceptions of Antarctica. Lui Medina’s self-titled exhibition was partially provoked by this unprecedented act of observation. How do you make sense of something so immense and seemingly devoid of landmarks? How do you cope with a setting to which previously effective methods of mapping cannot apply? In this sense, Medina’s latest ArtInformal show continues her intriguing, ongoing critique on the act of looking. Here, we witness her unearthing her own process, finding the geographical frictions, layers, and potentialities of several forms. Her partial answer: Move away from old traditions and interrogate the method by which you perceive and introduce a new framework entirely.
As in her previous exhibitions ASCENT and METAMORPHIC HISTORIES, Medina explores the tensions of space that arise between freestanding objects, wall-bound paintings, and the viewer. Utilizing precision and abstraction alike, the artist offers multiple points of entry into new ways of seeing. The objects offer the prismic sense of the Dymaxion map, the first cartographic record that proved the world connected by oceans, all of earth’s continents inextricably linked. With graphite, oil, and metal leaf on wood, these twin polyhedrons offer new, kinetic cloudscapes for open exploration, inviting us to make our own connections. A pair of quartz geodes anchor two pencil drawings. By using seemingly mundane stones and graphite on paper, Medina gives us a sense of the dynamism and growth present in even the most inscrutable, subterranean locales. On wooden platforms, these objects and drawings arise from the artist’s continuing captivation with geological potentialities, with all of the layering and excavation that takes place in what was previously unseen.
The paintings offer the viewer a similarly dynamic critique of form. Medina offers us new topographical landscapes, using oil painting as a way of rendering sculptures. We might feel we are gazing into a body of water, or a mirror, engaging a reflexive sense of observation. Perhaps we too are aerial, absorbing a once-unreadable landscape, bringing new eyes to visions that give our questioning no single, clear answer. The inquiry itself—the act of making—becomes its own instinctive answer.
By Laurel Fantauzzo