Pae White: UCLA Hammer Museum

By Tumlir, Jan | Artforum International, Summer 2004 | Go to article overview

Pae White: UCLA Hammer Museum


Tumlir, Jan, Artforum International


Of all the objets that thus far make up the baroque oeuvre of Pae White--from the zodiac-themed origami clocks to the castiron barbecues in the shape of owls and turtles; from the glazed ceramic bricks to the spider-assisted web drawings; from the cast-Plexiglas monochromes to her advertisements for herself--it is the Coloraid paper mobiles that have steadily assumed representative prominence. The delighted responses they so effectively coax from the public is largely attributable to a perceived discrepancy between the modesty of their materials and execution and the near-sublime luxuriance of the outcome. Paper cuttings affixed to lengths of thread and hung from the ceiling--et voila! Depending on how they're configured, the resulting experience will suggest a whirlwind of autumn leaves, let's say, or, in the words of one artwork label, a cross section of a pond seen seconds before being pelted by a hot pink rainfall.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

At this location, the works' affective range stands out above all. Second City, 1998-2000, is visible through the glass doors of the entrance: Flesh-toned hexagons hang from the lobby's very high ceilings and gently obstruct the walkway. Grief, 2002, comprising brown, orange, and yellow parallelograms, hovers just off to the side somewhat more diffidently. OROSCOPO, 2003, hugs the wall by the ramp leading to the upper level, its means of support invisible against its ground by dint of their shared royal blue hue. Here the cuttings are ovoid, reminiscent of cartoonish "googly eyes," and clustered close to the floor. One more "googly eye" mobile, Aviary, 2000-2001, bisects the balcony railing up above, as though peering over the route we have just traveled.

These are abstract artworks that distill the whole modernist trajectory between Impressionism's analysis of light and visual perception and the emergence of a phenomenologically grounded aesthetic under Minimalism--and do so in a wholly accessible fashion. One reason often mentioned is that they revisit a set of concerns once strictly limited to art from a perspective equally steeped in the culture of spectacle and product design. …

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