Critics’ Picks

Steve Roden, orrery, 2017, video, color, sound, 12 minutes 27 seconds.

Steve Roden, orrery, 2017, video, color, sound, 12 minutes 27 seconds.

Los Angeles

Steve Roden

Vielmetter Los Angeles
1700 S Santa Fe Ave #101
July 13–August 24, 2019

In “could/cloud,” the LA-based sound and visual artist Steve Roden continues his long-standing exploration of the relationships between sound, color, and form. The exhibition features several small- and large-scale abstract paintings and two videos, all accompanied by a soft, ambient soundscape. Roden’s bigger canvases, filled with prismatic slivers of color, evoke the stained-glass windows of a cathedral; yellow-ocher passages toward the tops of two of the paintings, both titled in and in and up and down below (above), 2019, enliven the mostly purplish color palette with a burst of divine light.

Although the paintings on view pulse with energy—Roden has invented his own systems for translating spectrums of sound into color—the substantial scale of the intricately detailed works makes them feel less intimate than the artist’s smaller pieces, twenty-nine of which hang salon-style in the show. Together, these smaller works establish one of the most compelling concerns of Roden’s work: the infinite. Like a little window, each picture reveals a different iteration of Roden’s vocabulary of forms, marks, and colors: Thick, staccato brush strokes and radiating lines suggest a formal system that extends beyond the picture plane.

For all their dynamism, the paintings feel less resolved than Roden’s two videos, detritus and orrery, both 2017, the clear standouts of the exhibition, as they breathe life into the vocabulary established in the canvases. Screened on a loop on the same wall, both are animated collages made from issues of the architecture magazine Domus that Roden found in his father’s house. Colored plastic sheets and glossy paper are cut out in shapes resembling the patterns of light in Roden’s painted images and here create ever-changing abstract landscapes that allude to their source material. At times, the artist’s hands enter the frame, momentarily shifting the scale. The assembled scenes feel capacious and boundless.