March 19, 2014
Oli Sihvonen: In Motion
Art Ltd, March/April 2014
Matthew Irwin


Oli Sihvonen: In Motion
Art Ltd, March/April 2014
Matthew Irwin

Oli Sihvonen’s work and life are so well associated with the East Coast that few of us recall the many prolific years the geometric abstractionist spent in New Mexico. In fact, Sihvonen resided in Taos in the early 1960s when his work arrived on East Coast scene, appearing at the Whitney, the Washington Museum of Contemporary Art, and MoMA. Previous to that, in 1949, he was among the first of the former Black Mountain College students drawn to the landscapes of Northern New Mexico, but among the last to stay loyal to Joseph Albers’ vision for abstraction, flat and unaffected.

New Mexicans remember Sihvonen often. His work has been widely represented in Santa Fe— at SITE Santa Fe in 2000, for instance, and James Kelly Contemporary in 2007. And, in 2011, the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos exhibited “Oli Sihvonen: The Final Years” in conjunction with a collection of works from other Black Mountain College alumni. Four of the paintings that appeared in “The Final Years” now hang in David Richard Gallery in Santa Fe’s Railyard District, along with six others, all from the 1980s. The show, titled “In Motion,” focuses on oil-and-acrylic works performed with the support of grants from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation and the Gottlieb Foundation. As the title suggests, the collection demonstrates Sihvonen’s attempts to creating motion in painting. He did so by applying the mathematical principal of Set Theory, essentially repeating contrasting patterns to create an allusion of motion, which bring to mind early motion graphics for computers and video games. The effect is amplified by the size of the works: Elegy (017) is 60-by-68 inches; Untitled (076), 72-by-82 inches; Mobius Mode (071), 96-by-68 inches. To stand in front of these works is to test one’s motion sensitivity. The most unsettling work is Untitled (019), 68-by-72 inches, which reverses the sense one gets looking through a porthole, the stillness appearing within the hole while the wall containing it appears to spiral outward, also shifting back and forth.

Any way one places his works together, an Oli Sihvonen show is an exciting event, but this collection very succinctly demonstrates the point where the artist’s training meets his ambition and imagination. We see here why he’s one of New Mexico’s favorite modernists.

Download:   Oli Sihvonen: In Motion
Art Ltd, March/April 2014
Matthew Irwin

Associated Artist

Associated Exhibitions

  • OLI SIHVONEN In Motion, Rhythmic and Optical Paintings by Oli Sihvonen From 1988 to 1991
    January 31, 2014 - March 8, 2014

Associated News

  • January 10, 2014

  • January 31, 2014

  • March 19, 2014

  • March 1, 2014

  • January 30, 2014

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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