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March 28 - April 29, 2005 at El Camino College Art Gallery, South Bay

by Elenore Welles

Fools Cup," 2004, glass/noble
gases/electronics, 22 x 9 x 9".

“Light Water I," 1991, oil
on canvas, 66 x 48".

“Light Water II," 1992, oil
on canvas, 60 x 48".
Throughout a career that spans 30 years, investigating the power of physical life forces has been one of Candice Gawne’s abiding interests. Nature is the preeminent inspiration for tapping into those forces. Though her approach to style and subject is thoroughly modern, Gawne’s crystalline penetrations of light through pigment are reminiscent of the mid-nineteenth century Luminists. In tune with their metaphoric implications of the divine as perceived in nature, she views the existential structures in nature as expressions of the sublime.

This mid-career retrospective displays Gawne’s diverse spectrum of styles and materials. Starting with masterful figure drawings, produced over a period of ten years, she advanced to paintings, encaustics, pastels, mixed media wall constructions and light sculptures.

Her evocations of light, enhanced by spacial rhythms, give strength and energy to the richly tactile seascapes, “Light Water” and ”Light Water 11.” Painted with heavy impasto, they explode with luminous color harmonies. The fugitive effects of shimmering light on water capture not only the dynamic immediacy of specific moments, but notions of transcendence and timelessness as well.

In “The Big Orange,” a 3-dimensional cityscape constructed of paint and wood, Gawne includes neon to intensify the deep pigmentation. Shifting light penetrates visual boundaries, seeping into dark recesses to illuminate the sense of urban isolation.

In a more whimsical vein, 3-dimensional, multimedia neon wall pieces are technological tour de forces. They are inspired by the rhythms of the sea and the translucent denizens it harbors. Art, science and technology combine to produce a symphonic dance of pulsating, undulating sea life. The complex renderings for these pieces are works of art in themselves.

By bending glass tubes into different shapes and filling them with noble gases, Gawne continues to make light and pigment the essential content of her art. In a series of free standing glass light sculptures, objects from the sea, floral shapes, bamboo and chalices are infused with radiance. Electrically charged with neon, argon, krypton and xenon, and mediated through color, they glow and crackle with a hyper-real transmission of energy that belie their solidity.

Gawne’s romantic evocations are an unabashed paean to the aesthetics of nature’s beauty, and a technological update of Luminist ideals.

Spiral," oil on canvas, 40 x 60".

“The Big Orange South," 1985, 3-D
painting with neon, 44 x 66 x 9".

Mil Mascaras," 1974, graphite and
wash on paper and vellum, 48 x 36".