Installation at Rosenberg Gallery deftly uses material, space, light

January 29, 1991|By Robert Haskins

The elusive -- indeed, perhaps the illusory -- boundary separating architecture and art is central to the aesthetic of Baltimore artist Tim Thompson, who has built a new installation on display at Goucher College's Rosenberg Gallery through March 3.

Commissioned by the college in honor of the new Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Arts Center, Mr. Thompson's installation is a series of four walls covered with a corrugated fiberglass. These are positioned to create the illusion that they bisect the asymmetrical walls of the gallery, inviting myriad contemplations of the relationships between the installation and the space it inhabits.

Most intriguing is the structured progression of texture and/or color of the walls as one moves clockwise through the space. Moving from a neutral gray hue, Mr. Thompson gradually adds more brilliant color, culminating with a wall at the far end of the space in which portions of the fiberglass have been torn away. The openings reveal the "stud" wall, familiar in house construction, in front of a black background painted with thin diagonal lines. Inevitably, the brilliant colors of the third wall give way to a final solid wall, this time one made of translucent fiber

glass. The translucent material allows light from behind it to shine through with a muted but luminous power.

This simple structure -- darkness to light -- is certainly one of art's most enduring images. It gains a special directness and clarity here, however, because of Mr. Thompson's choice of materials (most of which could be found at any lumber yard) as well as his generally uncluttered visual style.

It is somewhat regrettable that one element diminishing the poetic impact of the artist's work was beyond his technical control -- the lighting available in the Rosenberg itself. Though the lights in the space are used to maximum effect, a greater variety of even more carefully focused instruments would have both heightened the simplicity of the work and afforded the depth necessary to fully elucidate its dynamic structure.

Nevertheless, this installation -- at once a meditation and a journey -- utilizes the idiosyncrasies of the Rosenberg space admirably. More important, it conveys a singular and enviable vision with both economy and grace.


Mr. Thompson will present a free slide show and lecture on his work at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 in Merrick Hall. Call 337-6116 for details.

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