David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to announce its participation in Frieze New York with a solo presentation of works by Fred Eversley. Featuring sculptures from the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, this is his most historically comprehensive New York presentation in several decades. Eversley, who has long been associated with the Southern California-based Light and Space movement, is a key figure in the development of art in Los Angeles in the postwar period. Based on archetypal principles of energy, motion, space, time, and color, his sculptures are the result of research and experimentation he has conducted since the mid-1960s.
The presentation at Frieze provides viewers with a unique opportunity to see examples of Eversley’s work from three different decades. Beginning with objects made by a young man who had just left behind his first career as an aerospace engineer, the focused selection of sculptures follows his trajectory through the 1970s and into the 1980s, periods when he was experimenting with new color combinations and different scales, and during which his work could range from brooding opacity to ethereal transparency.
In the late 1960s, Eversley found himself increasingly immersed in a community of artists centered around Venice Beach. He began to experiment with liquid polyester resin, spinning the material in molds affixed to turntables, inventing and building his own tools as he required them by repurposing industrial machinery. Adjusting the saturation of his dyes or pigments, the thickness of each layer of poured resin, the amount of catalyst responsible for hardening it, and the speed at which he rotated the forms, he created objects that contained a wide variety of chromatic and optical effects and spatial illusions.
What all of the sculptures have in common, however, is their parabolic curvature. In some cases this resulted naturally when the resin was spun around a vertical axis, with centrifugal acceleration used to generate concave surfaces. In other cases, the curvature was formed later by cutting circular tubes into parabolic shapes. This defining feature of Eversley’s work can be traced back to formative experiences in his youth, when he learned about experiments in magazines like Popular Mechanics, spinning a bucket full of water on a record turntable, for instance, to replicate Isaac Newton’s own work on the parabolic form---the only shape in nature that directs all types of energy toward a single focal point. As an engineer developing high-intensity acoustics for the space program, he continued to investigate parabolic principles and their perfect concentration of sound waves. Approaching these ideas as an artist, he meditated on the energy crisis that was taking shape in the early 1970s, as well as the metaphysical ramifications of the sun’s role as the source of all energy, eventually deciding to devote his full attention to the parabola as the basis of his practice. Cosmological studies, and such concepts as stars expanding their energy and becoming black holes and neutron stars were also driving Eversley’s imagination.
The earliest sculptures on view in this presentation are angled, vertically oriented objects whose seeming lightness and weightlessness make them appear to strive upward. They were produced using horizontally spun molds; each is transparent and composed from three concentric layers of cast polyester, with each of these layers in turn dyed a different color. The works from this period all employed an outer layer of violet, a middle layer of amber, and an inner layer of blue,
but because Eversley varied the relative thickness and saturation of each layer, he was able to achieve a wide range of color combinations. He then made angled cuts that created complex external and internal geometries, with reflections constantly changing in relation to the ambient light and viewing angle. These upwardly tending “gate-like” figures seem to reflect the scientific optimism of the 1960’s, evoking the space-age technological advances that were taking place when they were made.
Other works on view are part of Eversley’s longest ongoing typology, the group of sculptures known as Parabolic Lenses, which capture light and focus it onto an imaginary plane or point between their surfaces and their spectators. Their sharp surface edges, meanwhile, refract light like a prism, so that curved layers of color come into focus and alter perception of the surrounding space. The Lenses at Frieze demonstrate the diversity of visual phenomena that the artist has been able to achieve within minimal frameworks. Several were made with profiles as thin as two inches; others are as deep as almost seven inches. The particular properties of each object, including its thickness but also the selection and saturation of its colors, determine its translucency and reflectivity---and therefore the kinds of kinetic experiences it creates for viewers. As these works were evolving, Eversley was driven by research into astrological events. As such, moving around a Parabolic Lens reveals a world in flux, transforming the ambient conditions of the space in which the work is installed, and calling attention to the forces responsible for the relativity of light and matter, the poetry and mystery of vision, and the transcendental nature of the universe.
Fred Eversley (b. 1941, Brooklyn, New York) was recently the subject of Black, White, Gray, a survey exhibition at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts (2017) and Art + Practice, Los Angeles (2016). Other solo exhibitions include shows at the National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C. (1981); Oakland Museum of California (1977); and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1970). Current and recent group exhibitions include Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963-1983, currently on view at The Broad, Los Angeles until September 2019; Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Water & Power, The Underground Museum, Los Angeles (2018); Artworks by African Americans from the Collection, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2016); Notations: Minimalism in Motion, Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015); Now Dig This!: Art and Black Los Angeles, 1960-1980, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2011); The Artist’s Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2010); Energy/Experimentation: Black Artists and Abstraction 1964-1980, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2006); and Monocromos - De Malevich al presente, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2004). Eversley’s work is included in over forty public collections. He currently lives and works in New York.