Shotgun Review

Quantum Jitters

By Shotgun Reviews May 3, 2011

In 2008, Reed Danziger debuted an ambitious, otherworldly group of watercolors on paper at Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco. Her elegant, gravity-defying flotsams: razor-thin, finger-like branches, cells, inky feathers, and muted necklaces of energy suggested an epic, metaphysical realm somewhere between The Dark Crystal and Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. The suite of transporting, mysterious works—most of which were fourteen feet across—demonstrated a fresh, and earned, vision.

It’s a surprise and a small disappointment, then, to experience this new show, which is also at Hosfelt, but consists of all 2011 work—dense, small-scale oil, graphite, and silkscreen paintings that satisfy, but do not immerse. Brutal, beautiful, runaway cosmic events feel forced and rushed, not intuited.

Take The Refraction Angle. Here, Danziger telegraphs Kandinsky’s closed worlds and deftly sculpts with what look like Yoon Lee’s angry ribbons of electrical energy, but the result feels more borrowed than influenced. (Lee and Danziger also share an interest in the speed and collateral damage of digital information.) A supernova explosion bursts full freight in the diptych The Incompressibility of Mass and Spring, a standout: the vertical multicolor band paintings of geometric abstractionist Gene Davis are merged with the thrust of Jules de Balincourt.

Destruction appears to be on Danziger’s mind, and it’s a colorful, fast end. One wonders, throughout, if last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon disaster or the San Bruno fireball was on her mind. The Angular Dependence of Light, an exhilarating work incorporating the muted greys, biscuits, and camouflage greens of her 2008 palette with supernova blues, pinks, and reds, features a spectrum of gestures (particles, bursts, rings)

The Angular Dependence of Light, 2011; oil, graphite, and silkscreen on paper on panel; 40 x 40 inches. Courtesy of the Artist and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco.

and geometries (bars, slashes, dots), suggesting nature against man-made theories and technologies. A jet-black center, like a hard-edged heart, anchors a splintering collision of disparate, uncontrollable energies, diagrams, and formulas.

Danziger trained in printmaking and has been noted for previous paintings in which she overlaid ornamental patterns; layering remains a key strategy. She initially makes under-drawings, then seals the image and uses oil paint to start a “building” process, incorporating features from the natural world, as well as math and science. This organic process has yielded seductive results for Danziger in the past; seduction is her strength, and she will continue to do so in the future. 



Quantum Jitters is on view at Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco through May 14, 2011.



Brent Foster Jones lives in New York and previously taught at California College of the Arts.

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