SHEILA PINKEL: Folded Paper, Glass Rods

 Folded Paper Pieces © Sheila Pinkel

Folded Paper Pieces © Sheila Pinkel

Glass Rods © Sheila Pinkel

Folded Paper Pieces © Sheila Pinkel

"I realized that if I sculpted photographic paper in the darkroom and then illuminated that sculpture with a one point light source, the planes of the paper would be exposed to differing amounts of light. When I developed that paper it flattened and the image became a two-dimensional representation of the paper when it was three dimensional, or a time-space paradox. As I continued to make paper sculptures in the darkroom the resulting images became less structural and began to reveal more intuitive dimensions of my imagination." – Sheila Pinkel

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Higher Pictures will present Folded Paper, Glass Rods, 1974 – 1982, two seminal bodies of cameraless photographic work by artist, writer, and professor emerita Sheila Pinkel. The prints on view evolved from experiments Pinkel began as an MFA student at UCLA. Fascinated by the possibilities of using light to make images without a camera or enlarger, Pinkel studied with a physicist and subsequently conducted rigorous visual experimentation with light phenomena including incandescent, X-Ray, ultraviolet, prismatic and digital sources.

To make Glass Rods and Folded Paper Pieces, Pinkel exposed her compositions—solid glass rods arranged directly onto photosensitive surfaces and sculptures made from sheets of photographic paper—to a brief flash of light from a single light source. From within this seemingly narrow set of parameters come rich and varied studies. In monochrome and candy-colored palettes, some of the glass rods are clearly identifiable, others begin to break down into vibrating woven patterns and further into geometric abstractions, and still others are stretched and warped into melting psychedelic planes. Pinkel found that layering the rods at increasingly perpendicular angles led to greater light refraction, bringing the final photograms closer to what she describes as visual music.

The Folded Paper Pieces are lushly textured trompe l’oeil, pictures that Pinkel calls “time-space paradoxes,” two dimensional representations of the paper as a three dimensional form. When the artist flashes the dimensionalized folded paper with light, planes of paper are exposed to varying degrees, giving the final image its dramatic shading and sense of volume. But developing the print itself requires flattening the sculpture back into a two-dimensional sheet that now holds an image of its own prior form. Distilling her process to the very essentials of photography allows Pinkel to work precisely at the intersection of the medium’s double nature. It reproduces vision and has an endless capacity to defamiliarize it.

Sheila Pinkel: Folded Paper, Glass Rods, 1974 - 1982
January 10 - February 14, 2015
Higher Pictures, 980 Madison Avenue, NYC
Opening: January 10, 2015, 6 - 8pm

Photograph © Loretta Ayeroff

Sheila Pinkel was born in Virginia, lives and works in L.A. Over the course of her 40-year career, Pinkel has created a strikingly diverse body of work that encompasses experimental light studies, documentary photography, social and political critique, and public art. Pinkel’s work is held in the collections of numerous museums, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Art Institute of Chicago; The Santa Barbara Museum of Art; and the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou, Paris.

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