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Physical Abstraction - at Gray Loft Gallery


Until November 11th, Oakland’s Gray Loft Gallery boasts a genre-bending trio of artists whose works erase the presumed difference between the abstract and the concrete.

In very differing ways, Ruth Boerefyn, Tom White, and Cuong Ta take strongly visceral materials and work them into forms of imagery that also readily float back and forth from echoing nature to insisting on the artifice of their own invention.

One of the hallmarks of shows at Gray Loft is the studied relationships that different works can have with each other, displayed in a way that makes this difficult curatorial insightfulness all seem like that was easy to do. But the effect is that individual pieces wind up being more distinctive, as the show guides us to heightened levels of attention.

In this show, that nuanced touch is nearly suspended, and quite dramatically so, by the first piece we reach at the doorway, a room-sized Boerefyn installation that dazzles as a sculpture, a living drawing, and an environment all rolled into one.

Photo: Malcolm Ryder | Ryder Foto


Opposite that installation, things settle in per Gray Loft's usual.

Tom White’s pieces continually vibrate between feeling 2D and 3D. Meanwhile, meditating on the work allows it to increasingly seem like an organic evolution of its parts into a whole. It is cultivated, and while its final coherence need not refer to anything more than that it found its “rest” state, it is still highly evocative of things other than itself.

Both White and Boerefyn also have more than one kind of work on display, and in the gallery space it is irresistible to consider how their respective differing works inform each other within the show.

As if to make that very thing a point, the design of the exhibit allows the placement of ceramic works by the third artist, Cuong Ta, to both share the space with other works of Boerefyn and White, and to visually comment on them in sympathetic character.

But on their own, Cuong Ta’s pieces survey ways that artists intervene in natural forms. Artists often elevate Nature’s abstract qualities to make its presence even more pronounced. Here, the pieces are vessels but also highly graphical. The artist finds various ways to sharply highlight forms that already had natural meaning of their own but now also carry the imprint of our human hand.

Additional introduction to the unifying currents of this exhibit and its immersive experience is found presently at through November 11th while the show remains on view.

All pictures courtesy of Gray Loft Gallery, except where noted otherwise.

Gray Loft Gallery is located at 2889 Ford Street #32 in Oakland.

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