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A Rose-Colored Experience

Mackenzie Ward
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Second gallery room

A wall of the second gallery room with a view into the first gallery room.

 

Mackenzie Ward, a junior at Emory University and graduate of Bellaire High School, is interning at The Buzz this winter break. 

I walked eagerly into the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston to view Sergio Prego’s “Rose-colored Drift/To the Students” exhibition. Upon entering the building, the first gallery room with the main installation caught my eye immediately. Unlike many exhibits, with art hung on the wall along with some written description, Prego’s art filled the room, leaving only enough space for a person to walk under and around it.

Colleen Maynard, the Director of Security and Visitor Services, greeted me warmly and gave me a brief overview of the three spaces that comprise the exhibition. She suggested walking through the exhibit first with a fresh, open mind before discussing its possible interpretations. Prego, now based in New York, is a Spanish artist known for his conceptual sculptures. For his exhibition at Blaffer, he created a unique perceptual and spatial sculptural device for visitors to walk through and interact with.

Translucent gallery walls

The second gallery room with a view of the translucent gallery walls, which bulge out. Behind the membranes are sketches and prints, which are difficult to see at some angles, forcing the viewer to move around the room to interact with the installation.

The title of the exhibition is influenced by Tatsume Hijikata’s 1965 butoh performance “Rose-colored Dance: À La Maison De M. Çiveçawa". Butoh is a Japanese avante-garde performance art which involves the plasticity of the human body that renounces accepted roles and codes. Prego’s interest in inventing new special relations is evident throughout the exhibition, which is curated by Javier Sánchez Martínez.

Entering the exhibition, the first room is filled by a 14-foot dome-shaped pneumatic inflatable structure. In addition, the walls and ceiling of the large gallery room are manipulated, appearing inflated and distorting the sense of space in the room. Wandering around the sculpture, the viewer’s perception of space is transformed providing a unique, kinesthetic experience.

After interacting with the central piece, the exhibition continues with a second gallery room, covered with bulging translucent, pneumatic membranes. Behind these membranes are drawings and prints, from sketches of swans to botanical specimens and other organic structures. What you can see behind the translucent membranes is determined by where in the room you stand, facilitating the interaction between the viewers’ body and eyes with the art.

Stairs

The stairs to the second floor where a selection of Prego’s videos is on view in the Salieri Studio. Visible on the right wall are the tubular sculptures that Prego created on-site. 

On the way up the stairs to the last part of the exhibition, a wall in the hallway displays numerous tubular sculptures that Prego actually created on-site. The sculptures – some made of concrete and some in grey resin – create a sense of motion, as if the sculptures were captured stills from a continuous sequence.

Upstairs, a selection of Prego’s videos is on view in the Salieri Studio. The selection includes clips spanning nearly 20 years. One theme observable in many of the clips is a consecutive sense of motion. To create this, Prego uses 40 cameras positioned in a circle to capture the subject from multiple perspectives, which are then edited into sequences that suggest continuous movement. Other segments of the video include a series of performances, such as liquid spills, jumps and unusual motion.

Prego’s exhibition was an incredible experience that I would recommend all to visit. His art provides a unique, interactive experience to each individual viewer. The exhibition is open until Jan. 27 and takes about an hour and a half to walk through to view everything, including the full video. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. Admission is free. 

  • First gallery room

    In the first gallery room, a 14-foot-high dome-like pneumatic structure is made out of polyethylene and aluminum tubes. Materializing Prego’s idea of sculpture as “drift,” the pneumatic structures are supported by internal air pressure.

  • Inflatable piece

    A closer view of the translucent, inflatable piece that visitors can wander around.

  • This is the view from just outside the Salieri Studio plus a view of the ceiling of the first gallery room where the central inflatable piece is. You can see how tall the piece is, with the membrane bulging out to distort the sense of space in the room.

     

  • First gallery room
  • Inflatable piece

More photos

First gallery room

In the first gallery room, a 14-foot-high dome-like pneumatic structure is made out of polyethylene and aluminum tubes. Materializing Prego’s idea of sculpture as “drift,” the pneumatic structures are supported by internal air pressure.

Inflatable piece

A closer view of the translucent, inflatable piece that visitors can wander around.

This is the view from just outside the Salieri Studio plus a view of the ceiling of the first gallery room where the central inflatable piece is. You can see how tall the piece is, with the membrane bulging out to distort the sense of space in the room.

 

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