New York

Michael Vessa

Rosa Esman Gallery

Michael Vessa transforms the gallery into a dialectic playground for an intuitive investigation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional (both real and illusory) architectonic spatial relationships. His most recent installation piece consists of wall-size pieces of paper glued with packing tape to the wall (one on each of the four walls) on which are drawn two-dimensional renditions of a three-dimensional structure in quasi-mathematical perspective. Their freestanding counterpart—a 10-foot-square panel—stands virtually floor to ceiling. One side of the structure is varnished paper, the other—traditionally considered the “back” of a painting—a facsimile of a conventional stretcher support. The frame is made up of mitered pieces of alternating light and dark wood. The tonal differences help guide your eyes around the square frame-support as it mimics the flatness of the two-dimensional “paintings” on the walls. The varnished paper surface within the illusory frame of this two-dimensional drawing/painting correspondingly reflects that of the three-dimensional structure. Similarly, by the use of masking tape one and two layers thick, the tonal differences in the three-dimensional structure’s wood frame are quoted in the wall pieces.

The painted surfaces of the two-dimensional structures are outlined with pencil-drawn lines. In addition, dashes on the floor extend from one edge of the three-dimensional painting to the edge of its two-dimensional counterpart. These dash-lines have their esthetic value while functioning as guidelines between the two.

The particular pleasure of the installation is that the three-dimensional structure elicits the illusion of two-dimensional flatness even as the two-dimensional drawing/paintings reciprocate the illusion of three-dimensional space. What is two-dimensional and what is three-dimensional is understood ipso facto within the confines of the space by mere recognition. The relationship between the two is more than just a visually complementary similitude; the exchange of identities is caught up in the transmutation of illusionistic space.

Vessa’s artistic tampering with the given architectonic space alters (via his creative capabilities) and re-creates this space, further estheticizing it. There are two steps in experiencing this piece. The first step is an immediate confrontation and intuitive reaction. The second involves understanding the order of the total structure. The experience is enhanced and continually supplemented by the multiple visual perceptions offered by moving about the space as if looking at a sculpture.

Sharon Gold