Radialvedic, adj., from L radius, ray, beam + Veda, of or relating to the Vedas, ancient sacred Hindu writings. Actually, it's a neologism purposely coined for this Johansson Projects show of organisms/worlds assembled from multitudinous tiny objects. Its connotations of radiation and enlightenment nicely fit the drawings of Jill Gallenstein, the sculptures of Kristina Lewis, and the glass sculptures and installations of Kana Tanaka. All three artists employ careful, even obsessive, craftsmanship and work on a relatively small scale, but their open-ended works seem infinitely expandable — tiny Transformers, capable, under the right conditions, of steady, incremental growth and proliferation. That formula seems to describe how these artists function as well, so, for this artwork, the R word does nicely.
Gallenstein makes intricate ink drawings filled with hundreds of floating, overlapping ambiguous forms — asterisks, roundels, pictograms, lace doilies, Japanese lanterns, ornate chandeliers, serpentining pearl strands, jewelry, baked goods, clockworks, Christmas-tree ornaments, mandalas — a welter of mechanical, botanical, and microscopic elements; the effect is exuberantly psychedelic (Aubrey Beardsley and 1960s Milton Glaser come to mind). With their astounding wealth of pattern and ornament, the drawings suggest a playful outer space, radiantly white, and chock-a-block with doohickeys and doodads liberated from some exploded cosmic kaleidoscope or Spirograph.
Lewis is showing three types of small, wall-hung work: Pods, small pincushion-shaped cut and glued paper constructions suggesting, with their tight paper coils, sea urchins, or perhaps strangely decorated potatoes, set in miniature stage sets with tiny pillows, mattresses, and screens, and accompanied by mysterious power cords that emerge from apertures in the wall behind; Zippers, sewn sculptures made of chain, thread, snaps, tubing, ferrules, turnbuckles, mesh, and zippers that suggest human/animal presences as pelts, carapaces, sheath dresses, or gowns even as they proclaim their undisguised industrial origins; and Specimens, mock-scientific contraptions of magnifying glasses, straws, tape spools, map tacks, plastic tubing, and acrylic disks that suggest cellular growth, circulation patterns, and expansion by unraveling.
Tanaka's glass pieces also take different forms: bubble-like lenses set in Plexiglas panels that are probably best displayed (as here) in windows as poetic prisms; plants or seedpod-bearing stalks internally lit by concealed lights that the viewer powers via hand-cranked flashlight; and installations of glass droplets hanging from slender glass filaments, simulating rain showers — an improbably simple idea executed impeccably. Radialvedic runs through August 30 at Johansson Projects (2300 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). JohanssonProjects.com or 510-444-9140.
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