Dirty Geometries + Mechanical Imperfections
Whether you wander into the weeds of architectural discourse or simply plunge into the weird beauty of Bryan Cantley’s complex drawings and models, his current exhibition at Storrs Gallery may make you sprout a few new neural pathways.
Cantley, a 1987 UNC Charlotte architecture graduate who teaches art at Cal State Fullerton, practices theoretical architecture, using the discipline and tools of architecture not to design buildings but to explore ideas.
His visionary designs incorporate architecture, science fiction, engineering and other areas. He intentionally creates work that is unresolved and open to interpretation – or misinterpretation.
Cantley pits control against imperfection; the finished pieces are the battlegrounds in which these forces meet. Digital drawings will sport hand embellishments, and hand-drawn works will have some digital elements.
For those outside the world of architecture, the works are nearly impossible to parse but engaging to look at.
The most accessible works are primarily hand-drawn. From afar, they look chilly and precise, but close inspection reveals crude marks and jittery lines that add warmth and personality.
Cantley’s work begs for explanation; its complexity makes you crave a glimpse inside a mind in overdrive.
If you are frustrated by the accompanying bang-your-head-against-the-wall-text, refer instead to the plain-language interview in the exhibition brochure; among the many things you’ll learn is how Cantley’s childhood in the North Carolina Piedmont, surrounded by farm implements and late-summer towers of kudzu, helped form his ideas of how structures occupy space and are occupied by people.
Storrs Gallery, Storrs Hall, UNC Charlotte; coaa.uncc.edu/performances-exhibitions/storrs-gallery; 704-687-0877; through April 11.
“Photogenic Nature” explores the intersection of civilization and the natural world.
Everything in this sharply contemporary show harks back to a historical moment: Benjamin Donaldson’s photographs to 19th-century spiritualists, Todd Forsgren’s to John James Audubon’s majestic “Birds of America,” and Michael Varhenwald’s to 17th-century Dutch painter and scientist Otto Marseus van Schrieck.
Donaldson’s “Summerland” series documents people as they imagine idyllic landscapes while under hypnosis. As each person experiences paradise in the mind’s eye, we are voyeurs, gazing upon them in their odd rapture, only guessing at what they can see.
Varhenwald’s “Forest Floor (after Otto Marseus van Schrieck)” honors plants that grow in derelict urban spaces. Varhenwald photographs these weeds in place, but against a black backdrop, giving them a dignity they would otherwise lack.
This show’s most engaging works are Forsgren’s “Ornithological Photographs.”
Depicting birds caught in nets, they look alarming, but the situation they depict is relatively benign – these birds are trapped in mist nets, which researchers use to catch birds that are briefly studied and then released.
But the birds don’t know that, and you can feel their panic and despair, much like Peter Rabbit entangled in the net in Mr. McGregor’s garden. Many of these birds are banded, evidence of them having previously been traumatized in order to study and, one hopes, save them.
The Light Factory; lightfactory.org; 704-333-9755; through April 11.