Monday, October 30, 2017

A Prescription

It was rainy and damp in New England for quite some time in October. My prescription for the rainy blues is color (and art history, of course). 

James Lambie (born 1964, Scotland), Zobop (Stairs), 2003. Vinyl tape. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. © 2017 James Lambie / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. (AK-2689lmbars)

If I were able to commission Jim Lambie to add more color to my life, I’d have him do the wood floors of my apartment hallway. I would love to see this vibrating color every day! It would make even the dreariest rainy day all right. What is so impressive about his installations is that they follow the contours of the room so precisely, it almost seems as if the colors are pulsating back and forth. This is exactly the effect Lambie hopes for in his works.

Lambie’s installations use eight to nine colors of vinyl tape to transform spaces into virtual kaleidoscopes of color. This piece at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is from an on-going series that Lambie has called Zobop. Lambie first conceived of Zobop (he invented the word) in 1999 for his first solo exhibition in London. His intention was to fill a room with rhythm while keeping the space free of physical construction. He equates this filling of the room without obstruction to music, which plays a large part in his life outside of his visual art. Zobop may be related to the 1940s terms of “be-bop” and “re-bop” that referred to complicated chords and rhythms of nascent jazz music.

Lambie’s process is amazingly complex and time consuming when he creates his Zobop. He starts by outlining the entire space at the point where the wall meets the floor. He then repeats the outlining with color after color, overlapping precisely 2 millimeters (about 1/16") until the entire square-footage is completely covered. It results in a domination of parallel lines of vibrant color. He has also created versions of Zobop in entirely black and white tape, and metallic tapes in gold, silver, and copper colors. He also often combines Zobop with found objects that he augments with bright color. Lambie has referenced music when describing his installations as the baseline played by drums and bass (the tape outline) and the found objects placed on top as guitar and vocals.

Lambie was born in Glasgow and studied at the Glasgow School of Art. The artist avoids attaching any cerebral meaning to his Zobop, though it is tempting for art historians to compare them to Minimalism and Op Art. However, it lacks these 20th-century movements’ impetus to redefine art and the way of looking at it, based on mathematical formulas and science. He prefers that people take away what they like from these installations. 

James Lambie (born 1964, Scotland), Zobop (Stairs), 2003. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY. © 2017 James Lambie / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. (AK-2690lmbars)

Correlation to Davis Programs: Beginning Sculpture: 7; Experience Painting: 9; Exploring Visual Design: 4, 11, 12

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