The Columbus Dispatch

Review – Rebecca Ibel Gallery

Unlikely Pairing Results In Strong, Divergent Shows
 — By Christopher A. Yates

Few connections exist between the work of Las Vegas painter Yek and New York artist Melissa McGill, whose works axe on view at the Rebecca Ibel Gallery. Yet the pairing is a strong one; possessing distinct, creative visions, each exhibit is engaging.

Known for his paintings on three-dimensional, sculptural surfaces, Yek has produced current work that is a departure, In “Cabriolet, he focuses on elegantly shaped, two-dimensional canvases. Surprisingly, Yek’s work maintains a sculptural presence. With a masterly juxtaposition of color and shape, he manages to produce images with unexpected illusory depth and space.

Current pieces owe much to op-art and color-field painting. His pieces appear to vibrate, twist and shimmer. Using deceptively simple, broad shapes, he airbrushes gradations of color moving from a subdued chroma to fluorescent intensity. The effect enhances an optical push and pull. Within one shape, saturated color appears to advance while neutrality recedes.

With titles that suggest memories or snapshots of place, the exhibit alludes to travel. In Arrangement #28 (Steep Slope Dusk), a solid, dark-brown wedge contrasts a vibrant gradation of yellow- orange to red. With an implied horizon separating the two shapes, the image becomes the artist’s record of a striking, memorable sunset distilled to its essential form.

A similar distillation occurs in Arrangement #8 (Lake Reflections). In three abstract shapes, the artist manages to simulate the undulation of water and the sparkle of light. Yek’s paintings have the feel of a rarefied sensual experience. Rather than recording specific attributes of place, Yek embraces the transitory essence of the physical world.

Melissa McGill’s exhibition, “The Othersiders,” features a series of photographs and porcelain sculptures. As the title suggests, the work connects with a kind of supernatural or otherworldly experience. In her photographs – all titled Shadows – McGill captures the cast shadows of people and birds. Usually she turns the shadow image upright, giving the “shadow a substantial presence. Though at first ghostlike and creepy, the work is subversive. It questions perception and the ephemeral nature of existence. In her porcelain sculptures, McGill reveals the unseen. She produces pieces by taking a mold of the inner surface of pre-cast, hollow ceramic figurines. In an absorbing visual metaphor, the inner becomes the outer.

In Untitled Crowd (60 Figurines), multiple knickknacks interact. Echoing the posture and stance of their original “outer form, the pieces are haunting and seductive. Items that were once cute and sentimental are now faceless, amorphous apparitions. With different methods and intentions, Yek and McGill engage in a metaphysical dance. Their work is powerful and challenging.