For Venezuela-born, Paris-based artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, art is an experience located in a viewer, not an object in the world. A painting or sculpture is merely an interactive catalyst.
Louis Stern Fine Arts is showing eight mixed-media paintings and two sculptures made since 2011, not long after the nonagenarian artist was included in the group survey “Suprasensorial” at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Color and geometry are key, as they have been for a sizable number of artists internationally in the last half-century. (For another fine example see “Robert Swain:
of Color,” a splendidly immersive environment of color panels currently at the Santa Monica Museum of Art).
Cruz-Diez paints precise, linear fields of saturated color, sometimes inserting vertical “fins” into the surface to interrupt seamless perception. Color bends, blends, shifts and dissolves in your eye, transforming flat planes into atmospheric clouds and opening impossibly deep labyrinths of architectonic space.
The most commanding work is “Transchromie Manipulable,” a free-standing sculpture 10 feet wide and nearly 7 feet high, designed in 1963 and recently fabricated in a new version. Two rows of 10 plastic fins in translucent colors can be rotated on tall rods, layering hues in a seemingly endless array of combinations and dramatically altering the otherwise ordinary view through the sculpture.
Cruz-Diez’s best works are room-size environments such as “Chromosaturation,” the one he showed at MOCA, mind-bendingly illuminated by fluorescent tubes. But works like “Transchromie Manipulable” are emblematic of his distinctive formal language, which requires interaction from a viewer in order to be fully realized.