Art review: Achim Freyer at Ace Gallery
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It’s hard to believe that Achim Freyer had time to paint while designing and directing L.A. Opera’s current, monumental production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. Yet the large abstract canvases and “textile sculptures” at the Wilshire Tower branch of Ace Gallery date mostly from the 75-year-old German’s current tenure here in L.A. While none are dazzling as stand-alone artworks, they do provide insight into a supple visual imagination.
The opera’s glowing scrims, its tilted arc of a stage and its odd, static costumes that look like statuary in a De Chirico painting find an analog in abstractions that play with our perceptions of space. There are dynamic, spiraling columns of — what else? — rings, like wilder versions of Tatlin’s Constructivist tower. Other paintings feature bold stripes that appear to advance or recede, or are composed of all-over squiggles that threaten to dissolve the surface of the canvas entirely.
An unrepentant Modernist, Freyer is fascinated by the mechanisms by which one creates and defines space. Just as he creates an illusion of flatness on the stage, he conjures three dimensions out of nothing but lines and color in his paintings.
The sculptures by contrast operate in a different register. Manipulations of costumes from the opera, they are more interesting than the paintings, chiefly because they offer an up-close look at unusual garments typically seen from afar. Although they are more like puppets or statues than clothes, they are not entirely successful as sculpture.
But that’s OK. Freyer has stated that he intends the “Ring” cycle as a gesamtkunstwerk, or a work that synthesizes all art forms. This exhibition is just one more link in the chain.
– Sharon Mizota
Ace Gallery, 5514 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., (323) 935-4411, through August 14. Closed Sundays and Mondays. www.acegallery.net
Images: ‘Leaf’ (top) and ‘LA Landscape.’ Courtesy of Ace Gallery.