Prism Schizm

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of taking a visit to the Hamptons to escape the oppressive New York City heat. Brooklyn based painter Ryan Wallace was my host and showed me around the latest exhibition at Halsey Mckay Gallery, a new summer long gallery venture. Their second show, Patterns and Light is a solo exhibition of work by San Francisco artist Chris Duncan. It’s funny that I came to escape the heat; walking into a room full of Chris’s work is like staring into the sun.  The largest work in the show, Prism Schizm is the most obvious in this respect. The yarn construction is like a tapestry of homespun summer air erupting from a tiny quicksilver pyramid. Two floor level mirror constructs feel like pooled quicksilver set out to collect strings of color that ooze lazily from its grinning wall sized façade.

A New Way to Cope

In the gallery’s back room the only two paintings in the show shine like hypnotic rubix cube mandalas. Each is a self contained orbit of mad, beautiful color set against gauzy white constraints. We celebrate the artist’s ability to leap joyfully across the color wheel with the practiced legs of an athlete. A series of monochromatic paper and tape collages and an array of dizzying triangular photo constructions are hazy and simplistic, if no less intense. In many ways the exhibition space feels like a laboratory. The artist takes every opportunity to turn the mirror against us, examining the way we perceive and digest color and light. What is interesting to me is that beneath this conversation, lying at rest like dormant genetic code is a sure footed confidence and shamanic intensity. The result is a love letter of profound gravity tempered with the cool, practical language of a scientist.