The only way to know that knowledge is overrated is to experience that morsel of knowledge for oneself. That back-and-forth between sensing and thinking, knowing and doubting, happens with great frequency in “The Elegant Universe,” an astute group exhibition organized by Gladys-Katherina Hernando at the Pit, a former auto repair shop where artists Adam D. Miller and Devon Oder have been presenting exhibitions for the last year.
Hernando took her title from Brian Greene’s similarly titled book about string theory published in 1999. You don’t need to know anything about science to know that the artists who made the works in the exhibition care deeply about complexity; that they believe, even more deeply, there is more to the world than meets the eye; and that they love, more deeply still, all sorts of conundrums, particularly those that make you pay attention to ordinarily overlooked details.
The exhibition rewards attentiveness like nobody’s business. The more closely you look at the five radically different pieces by Olivia Booth, Rod Fahmian, Sonja Gerdes and Nora Shields, the more you see. All play well with one another, creating great synergy along with the sense that the sum of their parts comes nowhere near the whole.
What initially appear to be surfaces — of paint, glass, cement, woven wool and lacquered aluminum — reveal themselves to be volumes. Space expands and contracts. Lines sometimes define boundaries. At others they dissolve into nothingness. In more than one instance, materials collaborate to get a single job done. Time slides by only to fold back on itself, catching you in a multilayered moment where memory enriches unexpected discoveries.
Strictly speaking, each piece is a sculpture, in that it’s a three-dimensional object that you have to walk around to see fully. But there’s an imagistic quality to all of the pieces, a pictorial sense that complicates their objecthood.
Fixed ideas give way to ambiguity, which makes everything more mysterious, even if it can’t be known with anything like certainty.
The Pit, 918 Ruberta Ave., Glendale, (916) 849-2126, through May 24. Open Monday-Wednesday. www.the-pit.la