Sippin’ on Prosecco at an event at ABC Carpet and Home last week, I excavated a whole lot of pending inquiry. For starters, most of the décor suspended into the air by silk, string and rod, or vine at ABC are not for sale. (Although with extra enthusiasm they will sometimes sell the props). Second, all the amoeba-like projectiles strewn atop 25,000 hand-made rugs have to do with Visual Director Manena Frazier’s increasing zeal for microbiology. “We as a culture at abc believe deeply in biomimicry and the intelligence of nature to inform design… The beauty of the infinite self reflective nature of the universe”. On the windows a quote from the Ancient Greek philosopher Hermes Trismegistus reads “as above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul…”
The ABC creative team lead by CEO and creative director Paulette Cole has also always been fascinated with water, albeit the threat to it, the power of it, the importance of it globally, as well as how it exists within each of us. Bored one snowstorm and working from home , Manena decided to create mixed media images of water’s crystallizing response to the words: Hate and Love. Inspired by Masaru Emoto’s pioneering records of how thoughts directly impact the aesthetic formation of water crystals (see http://highexistence.com/water-experiment), one of the many themes at ABC grows from the nuanced understanding that energy, music and vibration directly affect the molecular purity of water—of which we are 73% composed. “It’s a call to action to be careful with your words.” ABC also commissioned Sally Warring of “Pond life-pond life” to create a revealing video loop of single cell life found in bodies of water in NYC . The miraculous microcosms of our lakes and ponds and rivers invite a new level of awakening.
ABC is not a furniture store—it is an artisanal Tower of Babel. Climbing its course is like hiking up a pyramid or dormant volcano. Saturated with décor and fine artistry, the venue possesses numerous pockets of mystery that can never all be uncovered at once. Manena affirms:“we aim for everything [here] has to have. For it to It have to 2 or 3 of our icons, which have to do with all of our different values: Social responsibility, sustainability, local, organic, pure, fair trade. We organize our stories with these in mind ” Beautiful and compelling, each floor exudes a certain function, whose underlay infuses spirituality with practicality. Culturally exuberant, artisanal craftsmanship here hypnotizes, intrigues and delights.
It isn’t until one reaches the “Hallucinations” exhibit that one feels compelled to introvert. Psychedelically drawing in viewers into a planetary escape of poetic reverie, light master Enzo Catellani collaborates with glass worker, Guiliano Gaigher. “The two of them figured out a way of illuminating paintings that peer further into his mind”, notes Edward Nahem.” Sculptural armaments support lighting fixtures that peer into crater-shaped glass constructs. Nine separate installations optically project magnificent images against dark room walls. Orange, blue, red—take your pick—each optical illusion that will take you on a separate journey—and yes, each is signed by him.
Through his understanding of the technology of light, Enzo creates magnificent organic images; he “paints with light”, Edward’s claim to which Enzo repeatedly nods ‘yes’. Albeit a symmetrical half-egg with leprosy-like grains, a glass shaped flower or a 24-karat gold chalice—sculpture and painting work together. “Employing the glassmaker to really co-create epitomizes ABC’s reliquary existence,” notes Edward. “That’s why it’s called Hallucinations,”utters my guide: “Because if u stay with it, you lose yourself in the images.”
Working with the 4 elements—earth, air, water and fire—Enzo pushes light beyond traditional limits. First, Amoeba-like figures, or jellyfish seem to tread water. Second, eyes whose lashes accentuate deep distrust open up into living canvases. Irises themselves accentuate the irony of eluding the macrocosm, microscopically, and yet a retina expands opens into fireworks. Third, planetary meteors, whose surfaces resist the explosions, allude to an indelible cosmos.
Facilitating absorption and escape from the chitchat beyond, filaments, lashes, rays—gradate slowly, into static kaleidoscopic colors. Enzo and Matteo *** even selects modern music to play in the background. Varying in saturation, molecules sizzle beneath your spy of the eye. Doors open, windows close, and new cells are produced.
The timeless possibilities of light have been a preoccupation of artists for centuries. ‘Impressionists, were always playing with and trying to capture light. The pointillists were always playing with the use of light on an object, and here—Enzo is directly using the light. Art is timeless in a way, and any master painter would understand this. I mean—what was Van Gogh thinking when he did Starry Night? He worked with rich blues and the night to play. Artists all have at the core- a need to understand light.’ –Edward Nashem**
Elevating his refined craft to coexist with other art mediums, Enzo pronounces the world—your eye—with more texture and saturation. “We cheerleaded him on to continue with his work. He is very well known, globally for his lighting, but in this particular exhibition, Hallucinations, I believe he is basically PAINTING WITH LIGHT …Enzo, through being a master lighting designer, knew he could do the next level of illuminations with light. And we were part of this co-creation with him because we so believe in him”. Diffusing light so masterfully unto singular colors may set the foundation for an exploration on bouquets. Meanwhile, instilling kinetic effects may elicit even further dimensions.
On View: Through July 20, 2016
Gallery Hours: Mon-Wed, Fri-Sat 10-7pm, Thurs 10-8pm, Sun 11-6:30pm: ABC Home Gallery: 888 Broadway – Mezzanine www.abchome.com
Art Review and Photography: Farrah Sarafa