GALIA GLUCKMAN

cellular state

18. 07. 19 – 24. 08. 19

Cape Town

SMAC Gallery is proud to present cellular state, a solo exhibition by Galia Gluckman.

Painted paper sliced into strips. Narrow strips of paper tessellated to form complex patterns. Bonding tape, ink, scissors, cutting. The rhythm forms as she works. She is navigating the terrain of life through this meditative process. The textured surface as an arena for reflection. Gesture upon gesture. Layer upon layer, fragments of her thoughts stained onto paper. Through this reflective process, paper soaks up and stores memory and the surface becomes a form of an archive – a register and record through a collection of repeated gestures.

cellular state is Gluckman’s first solo show with SMAC Gallery and it coalesces large-scale multi-faceted assemblages made with textured paper and acrylic, in conjunction with a new series of miniature sculptures. This variation in size creates what the artist refers to as “oscillations between bigness and smallness” where the small-scale works enhance the experience of the larger works. Suspended installations bridge the distance between works on paper and sculptural works, allowing for resonance while facilitating a contiguous conversation.

The title of this exhibition; ‘cellular state’,  speaks to cellular memory, the notion that the body has the capacity for memory. Although the conscious mind recalls specific moments, the body gathers and accumulates experiences —what the mind forgets, the body remembers and will in its own way narrate these stories back to us. ‘cellular state’ is a space where ideas and emotions manifest as visual auras and where memories are made tangible.

Gluckman’s creations traverse between painting, sculpture, and collage —becoming interdisciplinary constructions filled with small elegant details. What she is unable to express in words, she communicates through repeated arrangements that take on non-organic forms. The works speak of love, of passion, exploration, and chaos, or rather what presents itself as chaos is simply a tension between fragments of thought, feeling, and memory. This process reveals the efforts of thinking and feeling through making.

In this particular body of work, Gluckman is more willingly embracing a darker palette by combining elements and by using a series of gradual changes in value and intensity. The result is a strong and vivid texture that manages to remain warm, sensual and elegant. The tone is controlled and therapeutic. In discord, surveillance and sway, hints of gold and brown emerge from the black surface, glistening and giving the effect of burnt charcoal. Because of the muted tones and darker palette, the viewer is not distracted by colour. The artworks are bold. There exists an interesting relationship between the works on paper and miniature sculptures beyond just scale; works that present as sculptural adjacent to ‘conventional’ sculptures complicate the very clear lines often imposed to delineate different mediums. This relationship poses a question; where does a sculpture begin and where does it end?

Gluckman is using abstraction to contemplate the human condition; the cutting and tiling of different fragments of paper create a moment to contemplate life in all its complexities. This complexity reminds us that life is robust and the same time nuanced—even as we are enthralled by love and passion, we’re still a little bit sad inside. A sentiment Bukowski expresses in his beautifully crafted poem Let It Enfold You:

“not forgetting centuries of the living and the dead and the dying, the pyramids, Mozart dead but his music still there in the room, weeds growing, the earth turning”

—life as all of these together; hope, joy, fear, transience, impermanence, imperfection. ‘cellular state’ is resonant of life’s unpredictable journey. Life as a condition shaped by many different small components that intersect, diverge, collide and merge.

Gluckman engages essential elements of tactility— strips of paper arranged diagonally are blocked by bits of other paper arranged horizontally, inky tones are nestled between fringing edges (revision and discord) and conventional materials are pushed in different angles. By tiling and overlapping painted paper onto the surface, the surface itself becomes concealed (and so are the previous layers of paper tiled before). This concealment is ruptured by Gluckman’s own attitude and relationship with the materials, she understands them to be forgiving and is therefore liberated by their infallibility.  Her technique of creating microscopic and macroscopic inventions that embrace non-organic compositions stretch the edges of the spectrum between simplicity and complexity. The work is incredibly labour- intensive and time-consuming and yet the output is light and unburdened. The visual essence of the work is not overshadowed by the complexity of the making.

In migration, copper coloured lines form squares and rectangles that enclose depth and create a three-dimensionality that pulls you in towards the work. These polygons create tangible patterns with solid shadows. The same gesture is repeated at increasingly smaller scales until finally, the image collapses into sheer texture and a spatial illusion of verticality.

Read together (in pairs, groups and so on) different works offer multiple vantage points and usher in new multidimensionality—protest (a gold horizontal suspended artwork) and recall are made almost entirely of gold painted paper and are grounded by the richness of gold. Restoration and Revision offer a flattened matte finish exaggerated by the use of black paint. With discord and migration, tessellations are more pronounced while tufts of loose thread hang loosely on the rims of discord and revision, extending beyond the edges of the paper.

Galia Gluckman’s work stretches our imagination of the length to which simple materials can go. The long time required to complete the process creates moments of reflection and meditation where one gesture calls for another and another and another until a complex pattern erupts. This complex pattern becomes a record of memory and experience. ‘cellular state’ is a pattern of activity, a method of process.

Text by Nkgopoleng Moloi