Bryan Ida: The Language of Color

Bryan Ida works in layers. Layers of color, line, and meaning are all equally discernable in his new exhibition at George Billis Gallery, Echo and Line, running May 20th to July 2nd.

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Ida’s images create external shapes and a haunting, richly symbolic language. The Los Angeles-based artist’s background in electronic musical composition is reflected here, with paintings that evoke the visual frequencies on recording-studio monitors. There is a musical flow to the works, which the artist has said are meant to reveal the passage of time and the importance of memory.

In each of Ida’s works, the careful, adroit use of color and his perfect abstract shapes form a harmonious visual music. There is a sense of containment and a vibrant sense of aliveness in each of his images, as if beneath the surface the colors and lines could break free or transform. Ida is working with ideas of connectivity, of perfection and imperfection, of the complexity of life itself. One of the most interesting things about these paintings is how geometrically perfect they are, and yet there is the sense that each image was caught in a single moment of perfection, one which could shift into another form in a heart-beat or a breath.

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Working in acrylic and mixed media, Ida has created work that is subtle yet intense, images of renewal and change so precisely defined that there is a sense of both isolation and splendor. If these are evocations of memory and language as the artist suggests, then who is to say what secrets and inchoate longing are kept here; what we contemplate and what we can express.

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Examining the rich blues and greens of “Unseen and Unimaginable,” viewers are studying the thin, perfect lines of a strange bird, its skeletal wings and body spinning outward through a wheeling universe dotted with stars, planets, or perhaps the glow of tiny microbial creatures. This is all about motion, symmetrical lines in flight against a soft, somewhat unfocused, peacefully pulsating unknown world.

Similarly, in “Transient Layers and a Quickening Pulse,” we have what could be a layered city skyline above a pattern of dimensional, floating platforms and upright, thick lines which could themselves be towering skyscrapers. These images are themselves filled with tiny, pulsating shapes that remind the viewer of creatures in video games or Chinese calligraphy. These are the patterns of life, the raw essence a landscape contains, the formal shapes we have superimposed over them. Ida has painted an intricate, complex work from the hues of his palette to the shapes within shapes.
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The fluidity of Ida’s work seems to speak of transition, change, and a barely contained spirituality. In “Immersion,” there is what appears to be a beautifully textured puzzle of interlocking rounded wooden pieces in a gentle rainbow of colors. This could be a gate or a door, a maze of pipes, or merely an abstract pattern. Whatever it may be, it is marked by a bright central circle of light, a large clear spotlight that lightens the center of the painting like a portal illuminated within the circle of a flashlight’s beam. The title can be viewed as every meaning of the word: involvement – whether physically within a substance, or through the mind or culture; the teaching of a foreign language. Ida’s language here is not exactly foreign: it is familiar yet mysterious, somehow known and unknown.

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Two other artists share the George Billis gallery space with Ida. Taylor Montague’s “Oblique Views of Suburbia” offers wavering, beautifully glowing images of architecture in a beach-town environment. The coastal color palette from the gold light of the sun to the intense blue of the sky near the sea contrasts with sand-colored buildings and dark electric wires. This is the world of the California coast, and of dreams.

Gina Minichino takes intensely modern subjects such as Easter peeps and ketchup packets and renders them with the perfection of a Dutch still-life. Like Montague and Ida, Minichino also creates her own symbolic language, here through lush renderings of common images, infusing them with meaning.

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