GEORGE GEYER

[1] [2]

[3][4]

(1) "Circular Light Compression Triangle," steel/glass/wood, 22 x 18 x 16, 1996.
(2) "Circular Light Compression," steel/glass/wood, 18 x 16 x 8.5", 1996.
(3) "Falling Triangles #2," steel/glass/wood, 30 x 28 x 18", 1996.
(4) "Falling Triangles," steel/glass/wood, 12 x 28 x 29", 1996.
All photos: Robert C. Brisco.

by Suvan Geer

(Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Santa Monica; Geyer also appears with Dean De Cocker at The Art Works, Riverside, with a separate selection of works) Art has always been about the human capacity to see. Even when what's "seen" is psychological or emotional, rather than physical. Or when it's an idea--invisible, vast and so ubiquitous that, like water to a fish, it is almost impossible to focus on. The sculptures and installations of George Geyer investigate this kind of arena, where the physical properties of matter move and shape the world of human experience.

On the face of it the Magnetic Field and Light Compression series that make up this latest body of work are a continuation of the artist's investigations of light and gravity. Like earlier work that balanced, stacked or waved long, thin sheets of glass in sculptures of delicacy and danger, this series also uses the brittle, fragile quality of glass to effectively suggest a tightrope of hazard and balance. But with Geyer's newest addition of powerful magnets dragging sleek industrial plumb bobs into sharp angles he emphasizes the idea that Force, more than any specific systematic principle of physics, is the significant content of his work.

Force is a broad concept. In nature it suggests power on a scale most find terrifying. That's an area Geyer explored with dynamic poetry in the destructive tides of the Surfline Erosion installation he did in Laguna Beach with Tom McMillin in 1980-81. And Force was the unspoken but clearly understood psychological pressure of denial and compulsion which turned the daunting, impassable floating glass corridor of the 1990 Forbidden Entry into an awesome and intimi-dating rite of passage.

If these installations were impressive for their no-holds-barred exposure to the nature of Force as a natural as well as psychological phenomenon, they also made the honing power of restraint a key factor in the investigation. So, in one of Geyer's smaller gallery pieces a single wooden clamp splays and dangles three thick sheets of precisely cut triangles of glass. Here Force is presented, not as something overwhelming, but as a precisely applied pressure creating delicate balance and tentative structural integrity.

In the new Magnetic Field pieces Geyer's use of magnets to counter the pull of gravity sets up two systems of opposing force. It's a subtle, ongoing tug of war of attraction which feels strangely timeless, temporary and delicate. But if natural forces are delineated by the sculpture's structure, they are also completely tamed by it; neatly overwritten by artistic forces making tangible such abstract concepts as space, shape, mark and depth.

The overriding of natural forces by the structural power of the aesthetic dialogue is troubling. It suggests that Geyer sees aesthetic language as a powerful force which exerts control by isolating and scripting any dialogue it is used in, even physical ones. That's an insight into Force with unsettling social and cultural ramifications.