New American Paintings/Blog


Alexander Kori Girard at Triple Base by openstudiospress

Alexander Kori Girard, System of Space 3, 2010 | Gouache on watercolor paper, 30 x 23 inches. Courtesy the artist and Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco.

Visit Triple Base Gallery in San Francisco’s Mission district and your head will spin for days with the colorful geometric abstractions created by artist Alexander Kori Girard. For the precision and planning needed to carry out many of Kori Girard’s pieces, it is astounding how prolific he has been, with most of the works in the show created in the last few months. The artist drew inspiration from recent trips to India for the palette employed and in the spirituality of his subjects. His compositions are built from a central axis or horizon, unfolding into structures that are at times mirror images, and others that grow out concentrically. More after the jump!   —Nadiah Fellah, San Francisco contributor

Axis mundi, the term for which the exhibition is named, is the convergence point of the universe: where heaven meets earth, north meets south, east meets west, earth meets sky. This notion of divine symmetry is presumably the inspiration behind Kori Girard’s body of work, but on closer inspection one notices the undulating lines that make his drawings just barely asymmetrical. It is this hint of imperfection that makes the works in the show distinctly appealing.

Some works are reminiscent of M.C. Escher’s graphic, mathematical drawings, and many others conjure the pictograms of pre-Columbian codices with their flattened depictions of figures and mirror-image symmetry. The idea of something that is simultaneously complex and rudimentary is perhaps what makes the pieces so memorable.

A Blink, Aneon, 2011 | Ink on paper, 13 x 9 inches. Courtesy the artist and Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco.

A few are done on Bhutanese paper, a material that imbues each balanced design with an irregular texture covering the entire surface. My only regret was not being able to get a closer look at one of the show’s key pieces, Blue Circle, which was hung so high above eye level that it was difficult to appreciate the subtleties of the small painting.

The Triple Basement, where Kori Girard and Altman’s video is installed, is not for the faint of heart. Climb down a set of steep stairs, past an understated Enter At Your Own Risk sign, and one is rewarded with an interpretation of the drawings upstairs, animated. Shapes swell, recede and mutate into countless variations on the screen, on a cycle of revolutions in which it becomes impossible to tell if what you’re seeing is different or has begun to repeat itself.

Wheel Handed Lady, 2011 | Ink on paper, 13 x 9 1/2 inches. Courtesy the artist and Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco.

In the past, Kori Girard has worked in a variety of mediums, often creating collages from appropriated photographs and cut-out paper shapes, with elements of his drawing patched and woven throughout. This body of work is quieter, but much more focused, and the quality and cohesion of his oeuvre is captivating. It seems that he has come into his own as an artist, and the exhibition at Triple Base displays his talent as a draughtsman, colorist, and collaborator.

On the whole the show is exquisitely hung in the small space. After several minutes of careful looking—at vibrantly painted structures and heavy-lined patterns that transform into monsters and robot-type figures on the page—one appreciates the refreshing elements of the meditative selection of works in the gallery, a calm sanctuary away from the chaos of 24th street just outside.

System of Space 5, 2011 | Gouache on watercolor paper, 30 x 23 inches. Courtesy the artist and Triple Base Gallery, San Francisco.


Alexander Kori Girard’s drawings and paintings, in addition to a stop-motion animation movie created in collaboration with Raphael Altman, are on view at  until March 20th at Triple Base, San Francisco. Kori Girard currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He is the grandson of renowned designer Alexander Girard.

Nadiah Fellah is a curatorial assistant at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

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