Los Angeles

Lloyd Hamrol

Pomona College Art Gallery

Hal Glicksman, late of the Pasadena Art Museum and Los Angeles County Art Museum, is the new director of the Pomona College Art Gallery. He is giving the major space of his gallery during the next year to five artists who have the option to work, exhibit, or work and exhibit there in turn. The first of these artists in gallery residence was Lloyd Hamrol who chose to construct an environment within the space, which remained in place for a week. However, in keeping with the spirit of the project and to make himself available to Pomona students, Hamrol conducted experiments in the space before conceiving the work and deciding on its final form.

In the final form, the entire gallery floor was sealed with dark plastic and flooded with several inches of water. A false ceiling grid was constructed and hundreds of white balloons were inflated and attached to it, with the lighting mounted above. The lighting varied widely in hue and intensity, ranging from hot pink and yellow through blue and purple. Passing through the balloons, the light had a sunset glow which was diffused, suffused and mixed within the balloons, changing hue imperceptibly across their curved translucent surfaces. Below, the same suffusion was reflected, even more subtly, in the dark water. Connecting the ceiling with the floor were numerous lead wires passing from the balloons into the water.

The entrance to the gallery was sealed with glass and one had to look at the interior from a little alcove placed in front of the glass. Through the glass one perceives something almost archaeological, the Egyptian tomb reconstructed in the museum basement or one of those trompe I’oeil natural history dioramas where reality merges with illusion six feet inside the case. The environment is unreachable, inviolate; the glass eliminates direct sensory experience. The thrust of the ropes and balloons, with the light filtering down, suggested some sort of marine landscape witnessed from a porthole under the surface of the water, although the echo of the balloons reflected in the dark water creates a perceptual ambiguity which is unexpected but desirable. The piece thus expands downward too, into a depth of pure reflective illusion.

Thomas H. Garver