Tula Plumi, Untitled, 2012, spray paint on metal sheet, painted flowerpot stand, 31 1/2 x 9 7/8 x 10 5/8". From the series “Lines and Circles,” 2011–.

Tula Plumi, Untitled, 2012, spray paint on metal sheet, painted flowerpot stand, 31 1/2 x 9 7/8 x 10 5/8". From the series “Lines and Circles,” 2011–.

Tula Plumi

CAN Christina Androulidaki gallery

Tula Plumi, Untitled, 2012, spray paint on metal sheet, painted flowerpot stand, 31 1/2 x 9 7/8 x 10 5/8". From the series “Lines and Circles,” 2011–.

In her recent show “Interspace,” Tula Plumi flirted with the duplicity of perception in both sculpture and works on paper. The ensemble was introduced by multicolored upright cylinders, two untitled 2012 works from her “Lines and Circles” series, 2011– , standing against a flat two-tone backdrop: DIY wallpaper constructed with sheets of paper forming the profile of a charcoal mountain on a light-gray background, a blown-up photo detail. The slender freestanding objects, made of metal spray-painted in matte tones, resembled layered rolls of construction paper, appearing more ephemeral than they really are. On the white wall beyond, in another 2012 untitled work from the same series, a thread pinned to the wall delineated a frame for a multicolored metal picture suspended halfway down the columnar outline, in which three cutout circles bob on waves of pink, red, black, and green. Next to that stood a blue-and-back metal cylinder encircled by a white wire structure, a found object originally used for holding flowerpots that, resembling a ship’s chimney, transforms the wallpaper into a giant sea swell.

The bold geometry and colors of these sculptural pieces rendered in two and three dimensions—harmonious combinations of red, pink, yellow, orange, charcoal, various shades of blue and green—evoked the architectural forms and aesthetic of the Bauhaus and De Stijl movements. Across the room was another untitled 2012 construction of two large metal pieces overlaid with smaller ones, each painted a different solid color and featuring cutout lines, arcs, and circles that resemble a wacky kind of musical notation. As in Piet Mondrian’s paintings, the interplay of vibrant colors and geometric shapes produces a choreographic rhythm in the mind’s eye. As a result, a virtual dance continuing beyond the frames of the objects extends them into an infinitely expansive perceptual space.

Nearby, in a sixth untitled work, also from 2012, variously colored metal ribbons appeared to be strips of construction paper hanging from the circular rim of its white wire stand, another found flowerpot holder. These works, in fact, follow on and look nearly identical to a series of “Paper Exercises,” 2011–, inspired by the assignments given to students at the Bauhaus. Colors and shapes are transformed by the alchemy of human perception into iconography representing meaningful objects—an idea expressed by another pioneer of modernist abstraction, Wassily Kandinsky. Adherents of De Stijl proposed the possibility of universal expression through the most fundamental shapes and colors: a utopian ideal represented through the reduction of everything to its abstract essence.

In the photographic series “Le Mont Blanc,” 2011–, monumental geographical features are vividly rendered in four starkly overexposed close-ups of mountains in black on aluminum, revealing a positive-negative pattern that vacillates between familiar and fantastic, abstract and natural. The undulating lines and surface patterns, shot on a snow-covered Mount Ida, in Crete, convey depth and flow. As stark and nearly abstract as these images are, you nonetheless felt you could step into the landscapes and hop around with moon boots.

Plumi animates and exposes the basic patterns behind inanimate objects through blowup and erasure, prompting us to wonder whether the essence of space is to be found in its interstices. Flat images of natural features take on a magic depth, while metal constructions appear as if they would topple or tear with a touch. Proposing a double narrative to express how reality is mediated by the imagination, Plumi questions the existence of absolute space without an actor to animate it. You could even say that, in a postmodern full circle, Plumi’s engaging ensemble carried allusions to Romanticism: The gallery itself had become an immersive landscape of mountains and sea, with ships bobbing on vivid waves, through the blurred vision of a wink.

Cathryn Drake