Works by James Sansing and Jerad Walker were paired in a two-person exhibition at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art. A large site-specific sculpture installation by Sansing, Unifying Theory (2009), takes over the 1,000-square-foot front/main portion of the gallery while paintings by Walker fill the smaller space on the far side of the gallery.

James Sansing, "Unified Theory" (partial installation view)

James Sansing, "Unified Theory" (partial installation view)

In addition to sculpture, San Francisco–based Sansing, works in a variety of media, including photography, painting, and filmmaking. A conceptual piece, Unifying Theory is composed of numerous, variously sized box shapes made from wood that has been coarsely covered in concrete and concrete-coated fabric, and secured, when necessary, with cable. This work is a second iteration of Seeing Information (2007), which Sansing exhibited at the Headlands Center for the Arts—one of the many West Coast venues where the artist has had his work exhibited.
The largest element of the installation is an enormous and highly textured box shape that hangs from the ceiling and dominates the room. Pieces of the concrete-laden material drape from this shape, uniting it with smaller cubes on the ceiling and floor. The draped elements lead the eye upward to where much of the bulk of the installation exists in the form of numerous cubes of differing sizes, which are attached to or suspended from the ceiling; the remainder of the piece is comprised of a few boxy shapes on the floor, which appear to be partially smashed. The flat color of the concrete neither absorbs nor reflects the surrounding light but easily melds into the industrial, open surroundings and concrete ceiling of the gallery, its multipart entirety slowly revealed to the viewer.
Unifying Theory speaks to the idea of matter broken into elemental parts, indicating an interpretation of that which surrounds, composes us and united us but is too small to see. Taken as a whole, the installation holds the space with contemplative rough beauty reminiscent of works by Eva Hesse or Arte Povera artists.

Jerad Walker, "Green Grass"

Jerad Walker, "Green Grass"

 Oakland-based Walker is also multifaceted in his pursuits, working in a variety of media, photography and sculpture among them.  For this show, eight of the artist’s paintings, made between 2004 and 2007, are on view. All abstractions, they vary from organic and fluid shapes to geometric or pixilated imagery. Among the former, the stronger group of works, is the immediate showstopper, Green Grass (2004). Numerous swaths of a variety of greens, resembling grass, are layered over a shiny, mirror-like background made from resin. Layered, reflective and subtle, this painting has an engaging and lyrical quality. Also of note is Blue Sea (2006); true to its title, it resembles the sea’s surface. Here too the layered resin surface creates an emerging depth and the sense of movement.
At first glance, these two artists’ works appear to have little to do with each other; Sansing’s is large and raw, Walker’s bright and playful. Yet one comes to see that the pixilated paintings playing off of the concrete cubes. The fluidity of the installation mimics similar gestures in several other of the paintings. Then the conscious intent behind the pairing of the works slowly reveals itself. The viewer is moved from the realm of Sansing’s elemental blowing apart of the pieces to, in Walker’s works, manifestations of the unification of those pieces—crystalline geometry, nature. It is a quiet evolution, a cooperation of conceptual pursuits that are a delight to unravel, and then reassemble.

James Sansing and Jerad Walker closed June 27 at Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art, San Francisco.

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