No matter how the wavelike vicissitudes of the art world swell and trough as decades pass, artists keep reaching back to geometry. For Damien Gilley, geometry beckons in 1980s-flavored architectonic forms and forced perspective he has deployed in the past in disciplined, highly creative installations in venues as disparate as Worksound Gallery, Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Manuel Izquierdo project space and the Wieden + Kennedy Building.
Often, his works are site-specific, spanning entire walls or jutting out into the viewer’s personal space via rhomboid planes. Gilley’s works are many things—challenging, invigorating, downright trippy—but one thing they are not is collectable. Only a museum or well-funded nonprofit could endow or permanently acquire most of these gorgeous but unwieldy works. For installation-centric artists who find themselves in this bind, producing large-scale projects of this ilk puts great lines on a CV but doesn’t put much cash in the bank account.
Lately, though, Gilley has been scaling his work down. In Infinity Games, his show at the Independent, he offers a series of small, wall-based works that are purchasable and portable. They have frames and are meant to hang on walls. For Gilley, this is a fairly radical concept, yet for all the miniaturization of his trademark architectural vision, Gilley loses no finesse or inventiveness in these zesty curios. Using a laser to etch fluorescent-colored acrylic mirrors, he overlays shapes upon reflections of shapes, capturing, enrapturing and ultimately boggling the viewer’s eye. With their inspiration drawn from the video games and music-video culture of the 1980s, the pieces seem to be stuck in a DayGlo time warp where Tron is always playing on the VCR and “Mr. Roboto” is on permanent loop on the cassette player.
use of mirrors lends a sense of infinite regression as forms recede
into space, while twisting shapes that could never exist in
three-dimensional reality play games with the viewer’s brain. Works such as Apartment 5D and Platformer look like Donald Judd’s Stack trays crossed with M.C. Escher’s impossibly interlocking shapes. The intricacy in these pieces and in the mint-green fantasia, No Zone, 1983, points
to ever-greater levels of obsessiveness and perfectionism in this
dynamic artist’s ongoing evolution. Rock on, Mr. Roboto.
SEE IT: The Independent, 530 NW 12th Ave., lovelake.org/the_independent.htm. Closes Oct. 29.