Charles Ross “Light and Fire”

Franklin Parrasch Gallery

poster for Charles Ross “Light and Fire”
[Image: Charles Ross "Solar Pyramid VII" (1982)]

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Franklin Parrasch Gallery presents Charles Ross: Light and Fire, the gallery’s first solo exhibition of works by the renowned New York and New Mexico-based artist.

Charles Ross (b. 1937, Philadelphia, PA) was an undergraduate student studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, when he serendipitously enrolled in a sculpture class to fulfill a liberal arts requirement; this course opened up the potential contained within the visual rendering of mathematical concepts with which he was deeply engaged. This conceptual notion led Ross to pursue a graduate degree in sculpture, and has since guided his artistic practice.

Between 1963 and 1966 Ross mined his interest in spatial geometry, movement, and the inanimate object, collaborating with postmodern performance and dance icons Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, and Deborah Hay to create theatrical sets and develop choreography. Following a series of acclaimed performances, Ross refocused his practice to concern the medium and movement of light, soon beginning work on his seminal Prism series. A breakthrough in his artistic practice, these objects refract and distort light and image, and harness the intangibility of light to alter our perception of the everyday world. In the mid 1960s, Sol Lewitt encouraged Ross to approach Virginia Dwan, the vanguard dealer of Minimal art and Earthworks. Ross’ first exhibition at Dwan Gallery, comprising a group of Prism works, took place in 1968.

Ross began work on the Solar Burn series in 1971. Using a large lens to magnify and focus sunlight on meticulously prepared wooden panels, Ross explored the movement of the Sun by way of a burned trace resulting in what the artist describes as a “portrait of light”. The Solar Burns included in Charles Ross: Light and Fire were created throughout entire-day periods, capturing the sun’s movement at the cusp of astrological transitions and forming distinctive concave and convex curvatures that correlate to the seasonal path of the sun. New Solar Burn works, which Ross calls Personages, capture the un-replicable personality of sunlight, day to day. In contrast to previous Solar Burn examples, Ross occasionally manipulated the Personage panels as they burned, acting as a conduit to capture the sun’s energetic personality.

Like the Prisms, Ross’ Explosion Drawings convey the physicality of light through dispersal rather than concentration of energy. Ross created his first Explosion Drawings in 1982 alongside construction of Star Axis, his monumental Earthwork observatory on a mesa in New Mexico. Inspired by the use of dynamite in Star Axis’ ongoing construction, as well as various mathematical computations and theories, Ross arranged live detonation cords and powdered pigments on dampened paper as a means to create drawings instantaneously; following detonation, traces of the explosion are visible as scorched lines, and the subsequent “fallout” of spectrum pigments absorb into the surface of the paper.

Charles Ross is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of a 1999 Andy Warhol Foundation Grant. His works reside in the permanent collections of numerous institutions internationally including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Des Moines Art Center; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; New Mexico Museum of Art, Sante Fe; Penn Art Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Recent museum exhibitions featuring Charles Ross’ work include By repetition, you start noticing details in the landscape, Bâtiment d’art contemporain, Geneva (2019); Spaces, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2018); Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2016-2017, exhibition traveled to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art); Love Story: Anne and Wolfgang Titze Collection, 21er Haus and the Belvedere Palace, Vienna (2014); and Ends of the Earth: Art of the Land to 1974, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012). Ross is included in James Crump’s 2015 film Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, an official selection of the 53rd New York Film Festival, alongside other Earthwork artists such as Vito Acconci, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson.



from February 28, 2020 to November 13, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-02-28 from 18:00 to 20:00


Charles Ross

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