Review by Danielle Schlunegger-Warner
The work at first glance resembles twisted forms of color and reflected light adding an additional brightness to the gallery from the shapes hanging on the gallery walls. There was a scientific feel to the show in regards to the way the work was arranged and displayed- leaving the power cords and boxes exposed as obvious components of each piece. The neon pieces themselves were very ethereal and mystical, and felt in a way that they were glowing specimens held in place by the large black wires.
I was immediately drawn to a piece titled No. 3. (top of page) It resembled a multicolored anatomical heart, especially heavy with borax crystals and displayed on a wall shelf. The visual weight of this piece intrigued me. It was So much more cumbersome than the large elegant looping curves of neon on the opposite wall, and the other borax covered pieces. I found out later that this particular piece had gotten an extra dip in a borax solution that the crystals had grown from. The colored light glowing from inside the double dipped crystals was reflected so much more and it’s weight,
and almost meatiness, easily made it my favorite piece from the show.
In the middle of the wall of the smaller borax covered pieces was Blue Gradient, a large grouping of vertical blue lines, casting a soft blue light almost through the whole gallery. It even affected the large looping white neon pieces hung on the opposite wall, tinting them with a hint of purple. Blue Gradient reminded me more of early neon pieces by Bruce Nauman or works by Dan Flavin where the reflection of the color becomes one of the more important aspects of the piece. What drew me most to it was how it reflected upon all the surfaces of the gallery, and how it had greeted me at the door. Because of it’s size and the amount of light it produced into the room (and out of it) it was really the first thing I saw when I walked in. While I enjoyed how this piece threw it’s color around the room, I wish it had a little more space to do it’s thing, as it could have easily taken up a whole wall of it’s own.
In some of Meryl’s past work she has had multimedia pieces that incorporate neon, but this is the first time that I’ve seen her altering and adding directly onto the neon to change the way the light reflects through substances like crystals or shattered glass, and human hair. In her previous conceptual work she has used neon to make recognizable symbols or words, while in Colorways her shapes are almost entirely abstract. In this new body of work it seems that Meryl has mastered the techniques of working with neon enough through her past works and is now experimenting even further past the traditional use of neon for signs, symbols, and bold statements.
To me these did not feel like signs, but more as objects and sculptures that emitted their own ethereal glow.
Colorways is up until November 5th at Stephanie Chefas Projects in Portland OR
You can view the show online but I highly recommend seeing it in person if you’re in the area.
Stephanie Chefas Projects
305 SE 3rd Ave #202, Portland OR 97214
Hours: Wed-Sat 1-6pm and by appointment
Originally from South Florida, Meryl Pataky moved to San Francisco in 2002 to attend the Academy of Art University. She fell in love with the tactile nature of sculpture and pursued a BFA in the major. Meryl’s work consistently revolves around elements found on the periodic table. From silver and copper to neon, iron and carbon, Meryl creates a variety of abstract works that relate to her concept of universal connectedness. In doing so, Meryl combines technical expertise–from welding to glasswork to papermaking–with her own personal narrative, building complex pieces that invite the viewer to guess at what thoughts and experiences influenced her process.