Hwang delights in forms that seem three-dimensional

Group show is on view at School 33 Art Center

Arts: museums, literature

December 25, 2003|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Is there such a thing as aesthetic imagination? If so, you would certainly think artists had it if anyone did. Still, it's always a surprise to come upon works that at first sight seem so seductive and intriguing that they practically shout the presence of a powerfully original imagination.

Such is the case with the delightful drawings of Kay Hwang, which are part of a group show of nine resident artists at School 33 Art Center through Jan. 16.

Hwang's acrylic pencil drawings of simple, repetitive shapes that she builds up into complex geometrical forms have a magical three-dimensional quality that makes them seem to float and hover over the surface of their white backgrounds. (The drawings are executed on a material called Denril, a kind of synthetic vellum.)

Though they resemble precisely rendered technical drawings or architectural plans, Hwang's images actually refer to nothing except their own meticulously ordered structures, which are defined both by the complex spatial arrangements of their individual elements and their vivid color schemes.

Hwang calls these arrangements "schematics," and indeed they call to mind the kind of abbreviated pictorial instructions that often illustrate guides for assembling modular furniture or electronic components. They also evoke the repetitive constructions of a child's building blocks or Tinker Toy set.

Where they differ from such commonplace patterns, however, is in the visual complexity of their interlocking surfaces, which draw the viewer's gaze and hold it despite the apparently simple logic of their design.

It's this mysterious, visually seductive quality of Hwang's work, which seems to issue from the most elementary of shapes and colors, that makes her drawings so satisfying to look at.

A couple of Hwang's drawings were exhibited at School 33 earlier last summer, when the gallery mounted a drawings exhibition as part of its contribution to Artscape, the city's annual arts festival. Hwang's drawings were standouts then, and they seem to have lost none of their fascination in the ensuing months.

These magical works would be worth a visit to the gallery all by themselves, but here they're complemented by a fine selection of painting, watercolors and video by Julianna Dail, Kathryn Norris, Kenneth Hilker, James Rieck, Carolyn Case, Steven Hoffman Shapiro, Paige Shuttleworth and James Bartolomeo, who provide all the more reason to view this elegant exhibition.

The gallery is at 1427 Light St. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 396-4642 or visit www.school33.org.

For more art events, see Page 44.

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