Ground Floor Gallery is proud to host “Rods and Ribbons,” a solo show by Gil Given; a long-time Nashville artist and resident. You may have seen Given’s work earlier this year at Ground Floor Gallery’s show “Otherworldly” which was curated by Brooklyn artist and community builder Austin Thomas. His colorful, resonant piece was awarded “Best of Show.”
Walking through the gallery, Given’s new work continues that energy. Carefully-crafted, sculptural paintings of wood, rods, and ribbons create currents of movement, amplified by vibrant chromatic transitions.
Having studied Woodworking and production design for theater, Given’s work holistically engages environment and form, shaped by its connection to the environment. Some of the pieces are created to inhabit narrow, interstitial spaces; while others create a rhythmic transition from one end of a space to the other. Inspired by the Hard-Edge school of painting, his linear marks have evolved away from the structure of stretched canvas, to engage with the physical nature of supports in their environment. The walls of the gallery not only support the work, but help complete it. Shadows on the supporting walls complement the precision of the pieces, creating soft forms tinged with blues, oranges, and violets of reflected light.
Structural themes reoccur as solid painted strips of inlaid wood anchor the fragile 1/16” rods and curling ribbons of painted canvas, which extend upward and downward. Flowing from a solid core, these extending sections of pure color create a progression as the form advances and recedes, interrupted at times by a clash of complementary color. For Given, color is a way to elicit mood and emotions through cultural associations and movement. The first piece in the series, “Tang”, features a blue gradient bisected by a bright orange strip, reminiscent of the orange drink. This gradient is created by solid strips of color set together to form a transition. Rather than blending color in a traditional painterly sense, Given relies on optical mixing, using form as a way to prismatically shift through color.
Advancing and receding palettes paired with striking vertical and horizontal themes create strong pathways that guide the viewer. This idea of movement, or travel, is a theme in Given’s work. In his “Jazz” series, Given reacts to the movement of auditory cues by translating musical movement into a visual dialect. The end results are reminiscent of a multi-dimensional sound wave. The “Sentinel” series deals with travel in a less tangible sense. Painted in shades of gray, these pieces lend a stoic presence. Given describes them as guideposts, or markers. In the midst of these soldier-like pieces is a free-standing self-contained form, representing an anchor or destination.
“Rods and Ribbons” creates an environment that is open to interpretation and sensory engagement, conjuring associations and alternative interpretations. Much like the work’s relationship to the environment, the relationship to the viewer’s own history seems to be just as important.