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Art in America

Ian Pedigo

By Stephen Maine

June, 2010

Although the checklist enumerated nine discrete works (all 2010) in Ian Pedigo’s recent exhibition, the viewer immediately understood it as a unified installation. Formal and conceptual echoes bounced among assemblages of found objects and brought the architectural features of the modest, no-nonsense space into play. Throughout, Pedigo juggled painterly and sculptural attitudes toward light, notwithstanding the exhibition’s deadpan title, “Accumulations of Matter.”
Pedigo effectively sets up tensions within and among his “accumulations,” electrifying the spaces around them. A Presence Inferred Only by Its Effect on What Is Visible faintly suggested both an image and an irreducible object. A previously whitish padded blanket of the kind used by movers had been rubbed or rolled with black paint until only its deepest crevices remained untouched; it hung on the wall across the gallery from the work’s other component, a silver foil-covered rubber ball one foot in diameter. The deeply odd Erratic is a banged-up folding chair painted silver, with a screwed-together frame of birch branches poised on its front edge and a precarious display of metal tubing, plate glass, blue-gray lighting gel and a small pile of slate balanced on its back.
There was still more silver in There They Were Left Strangled, a crooked arc of grounding rod bedecking a 5-foot-long wood log. This natural/industrial hybrid lay on the floor across an 8-inch-wide strip of carpet that nearly matched in hue the gel of Erratic. It ran up the wall near the log to within a couple of feet of the ceiling, and extended across the floor and up the far wall to waist height, further complicating any easy comprehension of the blanket-and-ball piece. An inconspicuous cut in the carpet coincided with a crack in the plywood floor, bringing that element and material into play as well.
In Preoperational Stages, nine patches of lighting gels in shades of gray, brown, pink, pale blue and silver formed a bricklike pattern on the back wall, economically (and amusingly) conflating the physical and the retinal, the blunt factuality of matter and the evanescence of chroma. Installed opposite, Emptied Projections expressed the role of light differently, partially obscuring the view through the gallery’s door and six plate-glass windows with lengths of milky-white light-diffusion material.
In this charged space, gallerygoers became unwitting accomplices in the installation, as sometimes happens at exhibitions of Richard Serra or Anne Truitt. Coming to grips with the subtleties of this tough and lovely show provided a gentle thrill.