Jack Fischer Gallery’s current two-person show, culminating its exhibition programming for the year, “Two Pencils,” brings together two local artists, Kevin Chen and Christina Empedocles, who engage with exacting work of pencil and paper, and reveal multifarious approaches and prospect new methods and practices towards the foundational artistic medium and material.
Including a repeating motif of fictional cityscapes, Kevin Chen’s drawings feature intricately detailed minarets, towers and capitals which he has called “fictional cities,” inspired by a combination of archetypes and styles. This series of work, “The View from There” was prompted by the artist’s shifting perspective of urban vistas and skylines after relocating from New York to Oakland. “Out here in California, there is a lot more space and vistas where you can see the urban fabric from a distance,” he said in an interview with KQED. “I became entranced trying to capture the feeling you can get from seeing the city from afar.” Both familiar and foreign, city skylines instigate reflection upon the feeling of anticipation, whether towards a return to home and familiar place, or the allure and excitement of reaching foreign lands and travelling. The gallery also provides magnifying lenses to view the exacting detail of Chen’s miniature drawings, a tool that the artist himself uses when drawing in order to, he says “…create a series of work that rewards the viewer with each subsequent deeper look.”
Many of Christina Empedocles’ incredibly detailed images on wax pencil on paper, which are at once painstakingly detailed, done with great care and also appear crumpled and discarded, explore the convoluted relationship of paper and pencil. “Through a practice of realism I am trying to monumentalize or archive an event, or memory, or create a relationship to something or someone I’ve never encountered,” she says in a recent interview with In The Make. At Jack Fischer Gallery, Empedocles presents works from two series: one is an ongoing documentation of natural biology, and the other borrows imagery from 1950s advertisements and comic strips– their crumpled quality seemingly highlights the cultural distances of past and present. “Together,” Empedocles says of these two seemingly disparate series, “they are at best a fragmented record: evidence of dates, locations, events and pseudo science, forming a portrait of an individual absorbing the world through popular culture.”
Kevin Chen and Christina Empedocles, “Two Pencils” will be at Jack Fischer Gallery, 311 Potrero Avenue through December 31