Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Beyond Fuss and Fiddle: The universe according to Ati Maier

Ati Maier: The Giant Dipper at Pierogi 2000 Gallery
October 15- November 15, 2010
177 N 9th Street, between Bedford and Driggs avenues
Brooklyn, 718 599 2144

Ati Maier, Disappeared Time”, 2010. Airbrush, ink, woodstain on paper, 24 x 10 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Pierogi Gallery.
Ati Maier, Disappeared Time”, 2010. Airbrush, ink, woodstain on paper, 24 x 10 1/2 inches. Courtesy of Pierogi Gallery.

You might have the momentary impression that Daniel Zweller and Ati Maier’s concurrent solo exhibitions, composed mostly of mid-sized works on paper, are quintessential Pierogi shows. It is no secret that many of the gallery’s artists adhere to a brand of obsessive, often intricately restrained, markmaking akin to that “Brooklyn aesthetic” once dubbed by David Cohen as “School of fuss and fiddle.” While Zweller’s show broods over a fanatical, labyrinthine precision, however, Maier’s paintings and drawings (both formats originate on paper but to different scales and densities) express meandering, pulsing meditations on the terrestrial and planetary, virtual and physical. While the paper works take a central axis, they orbit in a constellation of a wall installation and video animations.

Based in processes of chance and discovery, Maier works successive layers of airbrush, ink and wood stain into contracting and expanding spacescapes that accumulate scientific theory, satellite imagery, graphic advertising sensibilities and geological models. Visualizing these often virtually perceived territories, Maier’s imagined spaces recall the internet ether paintings of Benjamin Edwards or the wry architectural palimpsests of Julie Mehretu’s “Gray Area” paintings as recently seen at the Guggenheim.

While retaining an equally terrestrial and otherworldly character, Maier’s most recent work is denser than previous and more varied in its markmaking. The imagery is increasingly abstracted and acquiescent to less identifiable and circuitous patterning. Works such as Disappeared Time and The Great Dipper (both 2010) are interplanetary roller coasters for the eyes and the mind, as unclassified otherworldly visuals coalesce and collide with recognized sources.

Hovering clusters of laptop/turntable-sized framed works hang on the gallery’s longest wall. Painted in an enveloping black rectangle with rounded corners, the wall echoes the work’s paper edges and suggests an allover imbrecation of worlds.  There are various compositions of orbs within one another and others that are consolidated as a single aesthetic pictorial observatory. The rounded rectangular shapes have an ergonomic sleekness and design, recalling Maier’s 2003 plexiglass capsule frames and, although it may be a stretch, the lozenges of candy raver/DJ pill culture.

Nearly buried in this installation on an office wall near Maier’s exhibition are Maier’s video pieces “Space Rider” and “Event Horizon” (2009 and 2010 respectively). Subverting the white cube and occupying an ambiguous temporal space, “Event Horizon” was installed earlier this fall atop the ceiling of a grand staircase in a disused philharmonic building in the Lodz Biennial in Poland. A synthetic skylight, digital

planetarium, or android/dendroid-like organism, this video installation visualizes what one might imagine of her painting’s construction: a circular raveling and unraveling of lines from the center to edges, the endless accumulation of data and aesthetic happenstance. The pulsing of this digital creature is the interweaving and interlaying of three warped and transposed landscapes. Inspired by science and the eleven stringed dimensions of reality in the M theory, Maier brings her work contextually and conceptually into new realms.

Between the cluster of works on paper and of video animations, Maier’s work loiters on the fringes of an all-immersive installation. I can easily imagine double-sided drawings of various scales encapsulated in rounded plexiglass rectangles, suspended from the ceiling at different heights and angles. A video such as “Event Horizon” could occupy a concaved ceiling, as she originally intended for this animation.  This isn’t intended to be prescriptive; it’s simply clear that as Maier moves back and forth from three-dimensional to illusionistic space more freely, additional aesthetic, conceptual and contextual possibilities will continue to emerge.

Ati Maier, The Giant Dipper, 2010.  Airbrush, ink  woodstain on paper, 94-1/2 x 53 inches. Courtesy of Pierogi Gallery.
click to enlarge
installation shot of exhibition under review, Ati Maier: The Great Dipper, Pierogi 2000, Williamsburg, 2010
click to enlarge