Staff Pick: Thomas Kovachevich at Show Room

With New York’s unpredictable weather swings, it seems only fitting that the work currently on view at Show Room makes use of the seasonable effects.  Thomas Kovachevich’s show, Alpenglow, is breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity.  The long, narrow entranceway is lined with monotone, nearly geometrical shapes obscured by a layer of cotton parchment.  Because of their translucence, the pieces invite closer inspection; I found myself perched awkwardly trying to peer (unsuccessfully) between the layers of parchment.  The pieces are reminiscent of Kazimir Malevich’s Suprematist works, if his strong shapes and bold colors were to be occluded and softened by a layer of fog.  Kovachevich seems here to introduce the concept of the natural environment’s impact on the viewer’s perception of manmade materials, which continues in the gallery’s main room.

Show Room defines the exhibition’s title, Alpenglow, as the “optical process that creates glowing colors observed in the sky near mountains.  Humidity and temperature can alter the color.  It is also known to induce contemplation.”  With this definition in mind, Kovachevich’s works in the main gallery space assume characteristics of the natural landscape, altered by the other, unseen, medium in the room: the air itself.

In the naturally-lit space, Kovachevich has taken the simplest of materials – white packing tape and grosgrain ribbon – and created three separate pieces that feel at once sculptural and painterly.  Each piece consists of long strips of grosgrain ribbon pinned at the top and bottom over a thicker piece of packing tape.  Hung in a row, they create a striped square of color that morphs both as one moves through the space and as the humidity of the space itself changes.  When the air is dry, the packing tape curls around the ribbons, obscuring the colors and creating fragile paper cylinders around the ribbons.  However, when the humidity increases, the tape lies flat against the wall and allows the colors to truly burst forth.  Each piece of tape behaves differently, so one may catch glimpses of color peeking through a gap in the “tube”, while other ribbons lie fully exposed.

Kovachevich’s choice of materials is particularly interesting: the packing tape and grosgrain ribbon both suggest the wrapping or encapsulating of something.  Kovachevich has imbued the materials with new meaning, creating something that speaks to externality and an open landscape while defying the interiority of a gallery space.

Below are installation shots, courtesy of Show Room.  The show is only on view until Sunday, April 15th – don’t miss it!


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Categories: Exhibitions