Gabriel Lester, Startstruck III, 2020 / Technical development : Tom Jaspers / Artvark Projects
Gabriel Lester: Odeon
May 17 – Aug 11, 2024
Blaffer Art Museum / University of Houston
Houston, USA

The Blaffer Art Museum is proud to present the first solo museum exhibition in the United States of preeminent European artist Gabriel Lester, who has gained an international standing for his art, performance, and film as well as his dynamic public art installations. Across his now decades-long career, Lester has developed a captivating cinematic lens through which to see and imagine the world– consistently locating wonder in the seemingly stolid and mundane. For this exhibition Lester is most interested in the interplay between light and shadow, as well as the seen and unseen, as he responds to Houston and the fossil fuel industry that so deeply sheathes the region.

In the installation StarStruck, a dark, viscous pool of oil is continually interrupted by droplets of water and corresponding flares of brilliant light – piercing a thick chamber of shadow with illuminating transmission. This waking effect is further articulated in the neighboring video sculpture Cosmic Call, where the artist chases amorphous scenes of the universe through effervescent, yet ultra low-resolution LED monitors to create a mesmerizing, if highly elusive display. The capacity for light to simultaneously lead and lose us is expanded in the charmingly immersive installation How to Act as flickering colors surround us – pulsing to the soundtracks of various genres of film and television. The result is familiar and uncanny at once, evoking the abstract languages of televisual entertainment while also making them strange and disorienting. Early modes of cinema flash before our eyes in the adjacent series Jump Cut, where methodically rotating cubes house a variety of laser cut tableaux – coming into focus just long enough to dance away, over and over again. Persistence of vision and retinal residue accumulates here, propelling the art to work as much before your eyes, as within and behind them. The final installation marries optical with environmental effect as rays of sun shine through the increasingly perforated ebony towers of Bambaataa, projecting floating holo-graphic cubes that speak to the fleetingness of so-called structure. Taken and received as a whole, this exhibition pierces heavy, weighted geometries and their absolutes with the delightful, if perplexing magic of discovery.

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