SITE Santa FE – January 2022
In 2021, Helen Pashgian made some luminous sculptures that fill a room with a specifically colored light. In order to keep you in the room, she has set the room lights on a dimmer that goes from its brightest to very low lighting in a five minute cycle.
These sculptures are an awareness lesson that can be applied to sunsets, storm clouds, the atmosphere, the color in a room, the glow on a friend’s skin. They seem like nothing but light. In fact, they are each generated by a 6-foot saucer of convex, glass-like resin modeling color.
In 2012, a decade earlier, Pashgian made a sculpture of 12 columns that is also in this exhibition at SITE Santa Fe, which runs through March 2022. This piece fills the final gallery of this show, where the 12 columns are lit from above and similar to the newer pieces, the room light changes intensity over time. As a viewer, we are in a very dark gallery or one intensely focused on the columnar figure. In each column is an obstruction of color, some form that glows and breaks up the frosted luminosity of the cast-white column. Light shines through these obstructions and gives off an organic pattern that is not really beautiful in the common sense, but in the same way a video of microscopic images of blood teaming in our vessels is beautiful. The columns are not round but two ovals joined – they form a squashed figure 8. The obstruction is in the left oval form and so when the series is viewed from the non-obstructed side, everything is softer and fussy.
Currently on view at Charlotte Jackson, a gallery not far from SITE, are Pashgian’s round balls of glowing color made from resin. The SITE show has a gallery of these as well, and they are beautiful objects. In a way, the large installations I’ve just described show the artist’s progression from glass-like sculpture to the sublime. The older work, the columns, is a starting point and the glowing rooms are getting very close to light itself.