Shepherd: Lisa Beck's Complex Geometries at St. Kate

I have had the somewhat unusual experience of viewing Lisa Beck’s current exhibition “Send and Receive” (open through Nov. 8 at St. Kate—The Arts Hotel). I viewed it a number of times, in an indirect manner, before seeing it as a dedicated viewer. Over the course of several visits to the hotel, her show hit me at oblique angles…like flickering visual shoulder taps. Without even acknowledging them consciously, her works threw half-formed impressions at me from afar. What vaguely seemed like a polite show of colorful geometric abstractions were hiding more sweeping truths about the nature of that and other histories.

The particular piece of work that flickered in my mind like a sun-floater was a seven-foot tall, free-standing sculptural painting of concentric blue and pink rectangles. It sits in the center of the intimate gallery space at the St. Kate Hotel with a seemingly static composure. The work is a more complex construction featuring a tightly ordered geometric abstract painting placed against a silver panel at a right angle. This reveals an ordered array of nested rectangles only by reflecting them along a vertical bilateral axis. The mirroring panel completes the composition imperfectly, as the mylar foil plane is irregularly dimpled and therefore not cleanly transposed. As a result, what one sees is a dissolved image begging for closure and resolution. It is elusive even as it is emergent, opening up another separate spatial dimension in the oblique mirrored space.

The walls in the gallery feature a collection of 2-D works plying similar historical and conceptual contradictions. They cannily reference the history of geometric abstraction through the use of tight bands of color, clean angular lines and tight craft. However, they disrupt our expectations of that history by spoiling the urge to read them as concrete hermetic objects. Beck’s omnivorous application of reflective foil and wood texturing subverts what might look like basic formulaic art if seen from a safe distance.

BY SHANE MCADAMS

October 22, 2019