Ann Chamberlain has an installation in the high-ceilinged backroom of the gallery. More abstract than some of her recent public art, this installation is composed of sculptural plaster casts of crinkled paper, pushpins and red cord.

The small organic white plaster shapes are loosely dispersed across the field of the gallery walls. Held in front of these island-like shapes by metal pins, the red cord forms a taut grid of geometric shapes. The installation resembles a three-dimensional white monochrome, certainly more organic than Kazimir Malevich’s Architektons and much less authoritarian but nonetheless in that tradition.

The overlaid geometric grid of red cord extends in places deep into the space of the room implicating the observer and turns the monochrome into a three-dimensional map of drifting islands marked by the rational lines of longitude and latitude. These lines are pulled out of vertical and horizontal alignment by metal pins that become nodes of energy, communication and connection.

Chamberlain has been involved with natural processes in her work as well as with grids for some time. Here, abstraction lends both greater materiality and greater evocativeness. Is this an image of the Arctic ice melting and drifting apart, and does this grid allude to technology in a hopeful or in a fearful sense. The gallery lights bouncing off the deep red cords turn the back white wall a reddish hue.

Chamberlain is also showing two site-specific drawings, one of graphite directly drawn on the wall. Her drawing, in counterpoint to the conceptual public work of her installation, is quite intimate. Perhaps one hundred parallel lines become the record of a heartbeat or of a trembling hand.

Agnes Martin, meaningfully, drew parallel lines in graphite on canvas with almost absolute control for years. One would hope to see Chamberlain do more of her own lined works directly on the wall in her trembling hand.

Ann Chamberlain at Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco through September 30.

- Gloria Tanchelev [Saturday, September 23rd, 2006]


From the editors