Local Landscapes and Antarctic Installations
By Jud Yalkut
Idealized Mid-Western rolling expanses and the untouched vastness of Antarctic environments are the dwelling places of the visions of Craig Lloyd and Stefan Chinov respectively in their joint exhibition at the Dayton Visual Arts Center running through June 16. Through their unique curatorial combination, new questions of the perception of space transcend mere scenic landscapes and the viewer is challenged to inject their individual consciousness into gradations of light and space presented in two distinctive gestalts of reality.
Craig Lloyd of Cincinnati concentrates on the landscape vistas of central and southern Ohio and northern Kentucky, with their respective rolling hills, woods and fields, and the preponderance of deciduous trees. Currently an Associate Professor of Art, Art Education and Art History at the college of Mt. St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Lloyd has received his B.F.A. in 1972 from Wright State University in Dayton. While also known for his lithography, mezzotint and intaglio printmaking, he is currently intently engaged in oil painting directly from nature, carefully studying natural spaces and concentrating on landscape after earlier forays into constructed elements and mixed media.
“My working method involves small studies from nature with larger compositions following that are produced in the studio,” Lloyd writes, and he prefers “the tactile sensation of painting with oil on canvas” with “composition and light as elements to be manipulated in order to depict the mood of the setting.”
In his verdant “Floodplain” (2011) Lloyd meticulously captures the abundance of trees, bushes and almost submerged grasses in a landscape inundated with overflowing water, starkly contrasted against a tall “Stand” (2007) of trees rising into a blue gently clouded sky by a rural two-lane highway. These images delve deeply into the consciousness of anyone who lives or has lived in the country between the metropolises of Dayton, Cincinnati and the cities of northern Kentucky.
The “Rolling” (2009) landscape is like concurrent waves peppered with buoyant cedars in the painting of that name; the low roll of one green hill follows the gray horizontal lines of an industrial building placed in the midst of nowhere in “Cruiser” (2009); and a green expansive “Field” (2007) has scattered round hay bales before the distant cresting of low purple hills under a pale blue sky.
Low grass-embanked fields encase a stream “Channel” (2012) by a plat of equally low suburban housing, and Lloyd seems to delight in enclosed bodies of water with reflective qualities as in the parabolic sweep of “Pool” (2007), and the lake-like horizontal sweep of an “Inlet” (2011) with its suggestion of a wooded island and distant wooded hills. Lloyd celebrates what he calls the commodity of “open space” and he does it reverently with fine brushwork and a sense of old-world mastery.
Stefan Chinov, Bulgarian-born and teaching at Wright State University, is primarily a sculptor and draftsman, although the two disciplines coincide beautifully in such pieces as his large “Untitled” acrylic delineations on layered polyester film which suggest abstract sculptural configurations, almost as schematics for neo-Duchampian visual machinery. He has stated “that an object is formed by complex physical and discursive forces which, in their constant flux, are often impossible to distinguish from each other” and epitomizes this concept in such pieces as the steel, Plexiglas and plaster constructions under the sobriquet “The Device Laid Bare.”
Featured in Chinov’s section of the exhibition is new work resulting from a winter 2009-2010 residency with the artist Nicky Davidov as part of the 18th Bulgarian Antarctic expedition at the Bulgarian base at Livingston Island. There he completed a sculptural installation in ice and volcanic ash, documenting it, and a series of photographic images titled “Distance in Itself Invisible” taken with no lens through a pinhole camera of views of the South Shetland Islands- “landscapes and human presence”- which he conceived of as “an extension of the landscape in time rather than a mere representation.”
A black-and-white video by the same title is a high-definition single-channel of ice masses tossed within roiling water currents amidst rocks. Chinov uses repetitive sequences in this video together with the distant expanse of Johnson’s Glacier on Livingston Island and the ocean “to connect the two seemingly separate notions of the images and the objects.”
Installed on the floor of the gallery are two sculptural configurations outlined in steel with soft-color (pink) foam and Plexiglas top surfaces, one “Untitled” (2012) and one named “The Device Laid Bare” (2009-10). With these “objects” in parallel with the layered polyester wall pieces, we find the conjunction between physicality and concept confuted and made urgently realizable at the parameters of our perceptual consciousness. Chinov further states that George Berkeley’s definition “To be is to be perceived (or to perceive)” as applicable to his current installations.
The Dayton Visual Arts Center is located at 118 N. Jefferson Street in downtown Dayton.
Gallery hours are 11 am-6 pm Tuesday-Saturday. For more information call (937) 224-3822 or visit www.daytonvisualarts.org.
Reach DCP visual art critic Jud Yalkut at JudYalkut@DaytonCityPaper.com.