One of the enigmatic centerpieces of James Busby’s fourth exhibition at Stux Gallery is attempting an escape. A meticulously polished black painting rests on a cart that appears as if it emerged from an ancient shipwreck. Gnarly fiberglass growth threatens to consume the pristine surface from all sides as the rusty cart wheels the piece away to a determined but indecipherable destination.
Poets have been comparing artworks to wings that transport the artist and viewer to the realm of aesthetic imagination since the Romantic Era. Works in “Wingspan”, on the other hand, remind us that in addition to the ability to sponsor intellectual flight, various properties of the figurative “wings” themselves are fascinating in their own right. Influenced by Russian Constructivism, Suprematism and the works of Robert Ryman, Donald Judd and Richard Tuttle, amongst others, Busby’s new paintings are also inspired by the physical, temporal, and interactive process of art creation. They raise important questions about the way visual art initiates dialogue with its viewers and influences—or becomes influenced by—its surrounding environment.
The effects of Busby’s obsessive attention to surface texture and geometric relations are magnified in his new works of unprecedentedly large scale, for the artist. Created by sanding thick layers of gesso, his already low reliefs become vanishingly subtle amidst the enlarged overall dimensions. However, up close the viewer will discover forms that hover above or sink below one another in their new spacious habitat, creating frictions and spatial tensions that echo beyond the visual field. Oddly, the compounded complexity renders his works even more intimate as Busby’s trademark techniques dazzle in in their expanded venue.
The three-dimensionality and variations in surface quality allow Busby to paint with the light cast upon them to create ephemeral colors and textures unachievable by applying paint alone. Viewing his larger works requires viewers to completely immerse themselves in Busby’s meticulous world of visual and spiritual poetry, and engage thoroughly with the newly acquired wingspan before taking off.