The pleasures of trompe l’oeil effects are immediate. However the gee whiz marvel over the technical ability to optically deceive fades fast like the precipitous drop in earnings of a wide release film in its second weekend receipts. In a new exhibition at Ambach and Rice, Ron van der Ende races headlong towards this cliff but miraculously never falls into a non-resonant abyss. Don’t let the double negative deceive, this is an excellent show.
The best diagnosis for van der Ende’s visual success may lie in the fact that he doesn’t traffic in narrative or naturalistic depiction. More often than not, these approaches become trite and cliche faster than summer lightning.
The boxes, cubes, letters and I beams that are van der Ende chosen subjects are, for all intents and purposes, abstract. In such, the artist can flex his sizable skill set of forced perspective and have the head-scratching charm of trompe l’oeil deception be the subject matter itself.
The second marvel in evidence in this fine exhibition is that these images are made of veneers of recycled wood nailed into an armature no more than four inches thick. No effort is made to conceal the flat head nails which attach the veneers of colored wood to the structure and thus become part of the tone and rhythm of the the piece.
A curious viewer yo yos back and forth, examining the sculptures up close to see their meticulously constructed feats and then slowly retreats perpendicular to the wall until the perceived three dimensionality snaps into recognition. Move side to side and the illusion continues to a point when it disintegrates again. The act of seeing and engagement is essential to the appreciation of van der Ende’s work and thus his art becomes a collaborative experience. This dance is particularly effective in the east gallery where four pieces are installed on opposing walls.
The color palette is distinctive. Weathered hues lend an air of the antique. Furthermore, no paint is applied to the patchwork quilt of wood and color. This artistic restriction is also a gift to the viewer. Perfection is eschewed in favor of approximation.
The I Beams in the west gallery are bombastic and macho. They seem tailor made for a trading room of a hedge fund where positions of perceived strength can become self fulfilling prophecies.
Perhaps most satisfying is to witness exquisite craftsmanship at the behest of substantive aesthetic inquiry. In Los Angeles, where artifice in the film industry (matte painting and model building) were once the tools of cinema’s magic, it’s lovely to be seduced by magic for magic’s sake.
Ron van der Ende at Ambach & Rice, 6148 Wilshire Blvd. through July 27th, 2013
-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles, June 17th, 2013
also by Mario M. Muller
- Mid-Century Modern at LAMA Auction House, Van Nuys - February 20th, 2014
- Robert Therrien at Gagosian, Beverly Hills - January 22nd, 2014
- Art Fair Season in Los Angeles - January 15th, 2014
- Roy Dowell at Various Small Fires - October 14th, 2013
- Leon Benn at Carter & Citizen - September 13th, 2013