The light fan­tas­tic


Pasatiempo - - CONTENT - Iris McLis­ter I For The New Mex­i­can

Works by Au­gust Muth and Nola Zirin

Light is the faith­ful archivist of time,” reads the poetic tagline on artist Au­gust Muth’s web­site. Along with the paint­ings of Nola Zirin, Muth’s work is show­ing at Canyon Road’s OTA Con­tem­po­rary in the ex­hi­bi­tion

Enigma. “The re­la­tion­ship be­tween Au­gust Muth’s holog­ra­phy and Nola Zirin’s paint­ings is light,” said gallery owner and artist Kiy­omi Baird. “Zirin’s work has a strong em­pha­sis in color, which she uses to sug­gest light and shadow. On the other hand, the ba­sis of Muth’s holog­ra­phy is the re­flec­tion of light, cre­at­ing the color we see in each shape. When ex­hib­ited to­gether, th­ese two bod­ies of work speak to one an­other.”

Muth is a pi­o­neer of a genre that’s still largely un­ex­plored in fine art gal­leries — large-scale, sin­gle-beam holo­grams. “The essence of my work is light, and it’s ex­pe­ri­en­tial in con­text,” Muth said. It’s chal­leng­ing if not im­pos­si­ble to per­ceive the vis­ual im­pact of a holo­gram with­out see­ing it in per­son; not even a video can re­ally con­vey the dizzy­ing depth of the medium. “From an early age, I had an in­ter­est in light,” he said. “In my teens, I made wa­ter-filled prisms and would shine Spec­tra col­ors on my fam­ily’s garage door. I also be­gan mak­ing metal sculp­ture and jew­elry fo­cus­ing on highly pol­ished ref lec­tive sur­faces com­bined with opals. After study­ing art and physics at the col­lege level, I saw a holo­gram and re­al­ized that holog­ra­phy tied all my in­ter­ests to­gether.” Muth cites in­spi­ra­tion from renowned artists James Tur­rell and Robert Ir­win, but also from Al­bert Ein­stein. “In my per­cep­tion,” Muth said, “the pur­suit of sci­ence and the cre­ative ex­pe­ri­ence within art stim­u­late the brain in a sim­i­lar man­ner.” In

Please Stand By, a glow­ing cir­cle over­lays a translu­cent turquoise field of color. With its buzzing, glowy col­oration and its cen­tral cir­cle, the piece is rem­i­nis­cent of Dan Chris­tensen’s ab­strac­tions; the work would stand alone as a wholly con­tem­po­rary piece, but the holo­graphic el­e­ment makes it trans­fix­ing.

Though he’s con­trib­uted work to Cur­rents, Santa Fe’s an­nual ex­hi­bi­tion of new me­dia, Muth doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily think of his work as fit­ting into that cat­e­gory. “New me­dia usu­ally in­volves a dig­i­tal con­trol com­po­nent. My work doesn’t have that, as it is man­i­fested through the ana­log process of wave in­ter­fer­ence.” The ver­ti­cally ori­ented Arctic Ebb features jagged dashes of neon color travers­ing the di­aphanous com­po­si­tional sur­face in blaz­ing greens and pinks; it’s a psy­che­delic mash-up of light and color. Muth said, “Most of what we un­der­stand about the uni­verse is de­rived from wave in­ter­fer­ence. Iri­des­cent color as seen in bird feath­ers, but­ter­fly wings, and opals are all ex­am­ples of how light waves in­ter­fere with them­selves.” From this per­spec­tive, Muth’s fu­tur­is­ticfeel­ing holo­grams are ac­tu­ally man­i­fes­ta­tions of eter­nal nat­u­ral phe­nom­ena.

Enigma marks ab­stract painter Zirin’s first time ex­hibit­ing in Santa Fe, and her dy­namic and var­ied con­tri­bu­tion to the show oc­curs as an en­er­getic coun­ter­part to Muth’s. Zirin’s work, like Muth’s, ben­e­fits largely from be­ing seen in per­son. Zirin is a life­long res­i­dent of New York City, which the artist said has al­ways been an im­por­tant in­spi­ra­tion for her work. Sus­pen­sion sug­gests a fa­mil­iar­ity with the rush of ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments and also takes cues from El Lis­sitzky’s Con­struc­tivist ab­strac­tions or from Wass­ily Kandin­sky’s shape-splayed, non­rep­re­sen­ta­tional works. At 6 feet by just over 4 feet, the paint­ing hur­tles us into the cen­ter of a com­po­si­tion dense with fre­netic move­ment and frac­tured tri­an­gu­la­tions. Shafts of color zoom to and from the paint­ing’s cen­ter; in per­son, it is ut­terly en­gross­ing.

At just 12 inches by 12 inches, Geo has out­sized com­po­si­tional el­e­ments that be­lie its mod­est size. Over­lap­ping squares of yel­low and turquoise ap­pear to have a rough, sand­pa­per tex­ture, en­hanced by a dust­ing of glit­ter that sug­gests cos­mic ac­tiv­ity. An­other small paint­ing, Moroc­can Dream, is a shout of bril­liant pinks and or­anges: hotly in­tox­i­cat­ing col­ors that siz­zle across the can­vas. Here, the overlay of glit­ter isn’t an af­ter­thought but an im­por­tant com­po­nent to a paint­ing that side­steps a slow burn in fa­vor of a full-on fire­works dis­play. Zirin’s paint­ings con­tain strong shapes and dense col­oration, but they also seem to un­du­late be­fore our very eyes, re­veal­ing new pat­terns and tex­tures in a way that’s strangely il­lu­sory; this aspect of Zirin’s work is es­pe­cially ar­rest­ing when stud­ied along­side Muth’s more lit­eral shifts of color and form.


Enigma, works by Au­gust Muth and Nola Zirin, through Nov. 9 OTA Con­tem­po­rary, 203 Canyon Road, 505-930-7800

Iri­des­cent color as seen in bird feath­ers, but­ter­fly wings, and opals are all ex­am­ples of how light waves in­ter­fere with them­selves. — Au­gust Muth

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