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Ink, Flowers, Time, Text: Four Gallery Shows This Week

Nancy Chan, "Kady", 2006

Nancy Chan, "Kady", 2006; sumi ink on cotton rag paper, 16 x 36.5. Image courtesy the Chinese Culture Foundation and the artist.

Four gallery exhibitions stand out this week; they present work in ink, of flowers, about time and wielding text. Of course, these single-word summations are grand oversimplifications that barely scratch the surface of how the eight artists in the Chinese Cultural Center's Moment for Ink breathe new, contemporary and even non-Chinese life into a traditional medium, or how Canadian painter Graham Gillmore's phrasing achieves such controversial edge. For that, read on, then see the shows yourself.

Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition, at Chinese Culture Center

The traditional Chinese practice of ink-wash painting is generally thought to be a staid and culturally isolated one. Indeed, when the Chinese Culture Center's artistic director, Abby Chen, raised the question to an auditorium of art school students in China, hardly a single one was able to name a non-Chinese artist with ties to the medium. 

The Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition arrives not a moment too soon, then. The exhibition, curated by Ms. Chen, boldly undermines the notion of ink's Western irrelevance by exposing the work of eight artists, many of whom are based outside of China and/or not of East Asian descent, who are doing fantastically innovative things with the age old form of pigment. Nigerian-born Toyin Odutola uses ballpoint pen to create gorgeous, indelible portraits. Stanford professor Xie Xiaoze uses ink to transcribe politically loaded newspaper photographs into massive scale, and CCA grad Jonathan Wallraven inks up the very walls of the CCC gallery, contending with the language of advertising. Don't miss this show.

Moment for Ink: Shaking Off Tradition runs through May 18 at the Chinese Culture Center Gallery (750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor)

Bobbie Burgers; "Governing My Dreams"; acrylic on canvas 

Bobbie Burgers: Day of Dreams and Visions, at Caldwell Snyder Gallery

Bobbie Burgers is maybe one of the few painters of floral displays worth writing home about. Working at a fairly epic scale, the artist uses flowers as a muse for what amounts perhaps above all to an infatuation with color – sensuous bursts of, for example, creamy white, deep purple and vivid yellow. In this sense, her works as much evoke Van Gogh's sunflowers as they do the late abstract expressionism of Gordon Smith. There's a hint of the sublime here, as Burgers unabashedly seeks to overwhelm the viewer's senses. See for yourself. 

Bobbie Burgers: Day of Dreams and Visions runs from March 7 through March 31 at Caldwell Snyder Gallery (341 Sutter Street). Opening Reception: Saturday, March 23 from 5 - 7 pm 

 Gregg Chadwick; "Grand Central", Oil on Canvas

Gregg Chadwick: The Time Between, at Sandra Lee Gallery

Gregg Chadwick begins with a Greek conceptual dyad pertaining to that slippery core of existence: Time. The ancients defined chronos as sequential and chronological time, kairos – the time in between. Chadwick paints in oil in various sessions, superimposing images upon one another and in effect capturing the ghostly effect of kairos. The palette is muted; the atmosphere vaporous, beautiful and melancholy. With any luck, Chadwick hopes, the works will disturb viewers' sense of time's linearity, offering the conundrum of a simultaneous past, present and future instead.

Gregg Chadwick: The Time Between runs through March 30 at Sandra Lee Gallery (251 Post Street). Opening Reception: Thursday, March 7, from 5:30 - 7:30 pm 

 Graham Gillmore; "Op or Tunist", 2012 Acrylic on paper 30'' x 44.5''

Graham Gillmore, at Gallery 16

Don't miss this exhibition of paintings by prominent Canadian artist Graham Gillmore. Gillmore's work, which is held by museums including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, is known for its distinctive deployment of controversial, often vitriolic text amidst abstract or graphic paint. The paintings have a deadpan yet provocative appeal that stays with a viewer longer than one would perhaps expect. Stop by the opening reception for some Americana rock by locals Tiny Television.

Graham Gillmore runs from March 8 - April 30 at Gallery 16 (501 Third Street). Opening Reception: Friday, March 8 from 6 - 9 pm