Through my visits to Cosmopolitan Routes: Houston Collects Latin American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, I have been introduced to the work of Elias Crespin, in particular Tetra Circular Azul (shown above). The squares appear to float and move in space without support; tilting and moving they change configuration, sometimes all together, sometimes as few as one piece at a time. His Picasa web album has a series of images to gives= you an idea of the changes this sculpture makes over time.
While I was standing by the sculpture, making notes and watching, mesmerized, as it moved and danced in the air, two men came over, iPhone in hand and started discussing the speed of the sculpture. This piece is controlled via an iPhone – yes, I guess “there’s an app for that”!
We got talking about the sculpture, the artist and the intersection of Math and Art; and I discovered later that I had been speaking to none other than the sculpture’s owner, Brad Bucher. He told me about his favorite configuration that the piece goes through – a moment when the sculpture forms a curve, as though a spiral staircase. A moment which occurred as we spoke and it is indeed an exquisite, sweeping curve, the sculpture pausing just long enough for you to take in its beauty, before moving on to the next pose, like a ballerina.
I wish I had known because I would liked to have asked if the piece is an area with natural or changing light, and how that light affects the sculpture. Something that cannot be seen in a museum or gallery setting.
I am particularly drawn to the transparency of the perspex and the way the overlapping squares, at varying angles, create variations in the depth and intensity of the blue. Although it may not be a specific part of the piece, the reflective surface of the perspex creates moving reflected light patterns on the ground below, as well as blue, semi-transparent shadows.
Elias Crespin is a Venezuelan artist living in Paris who trained as a computer scientist. He talks about his art as “a metallic dance of elegance” and “painting in the air”. His work started after he saw the works of Jesús Rafael Soto and wondered how they would look if they were to move. He learnt how to control one motor with the computer, then two, then eight and the many more – Tetra Circular Azul has no less than 64 motors.
I consider myself very lucky to live near a large museum, like the MFAH, where I can come into contact with works, and learn about artists, that I might never otherwise see. I read widely, but contemporary art isn’t in the books yet – the only way to learn about it is to go to shows, at museums or at galleries, make notes and then start digging up information and images on the web. This show in particular has taught me that I should go to every show that I can, because I just never know what I will come into contact with – Elias’ work was not the only piece that has had me digging around on Google all day, but more of that another day!