3-Sided Square at Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta

By August 26, 2020
Installation view of 3-Sided Square at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, showing works by Clark Derbes (on pedestals), George Long (back left), and Mery Lyn McCorkle (right). All images courtesy of Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta.

In 3-Sided Square, a group exhibition on view through September 26 at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta, three artists play with the possibilities of geometry in space and examine the illusory nature of perception using color and line. Swirling spangled collages replete with vibrant fractal spheres, wooden polyhedron sculptures designed to confuse the eye, and hypnotic mixed media landscapes gel together in the space to create a cohesive and playful exhibition. Like the three-sided square discovered by astronomer Clifford Stoll from which the exhibition takes its name, the painting, assemblage, and sculptural works in 3-Sided Square are evenly–maybe even uncannily–matched to each other.

Atlanta artist Mery Lynn McCorkle’s psychedelic collages paintings bring motion into the exhibition space, their dissected bubbles of neon color and glitter mirroring the circled squares which populate fellow Atlantan George Long’s assemblages and mixed media drawings. The jagged lines and splintered, neon sphere of McCorkle’s Turn Turn Turn gives the illusion of frenetic movement, suggesting molecules vibrating against one another in the moment before a chemical blast.

Clark Derbes, Time Travel Agency, 2016.

Long’s massive Otto and Amma sprawl across the gallery’s back wall, merging into one as they meet in a corner. The hundreds of wooden tiles that comprise the two works are each filled with a circle or multiple circles, combining to create a simmering mass of churning cells.

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Clark Derbes, a sculptor based in Vermont, contributes a series of wooden polyhedrons which function as true objects of optical illusion – appearing to bend and shift their not-quite-angular sides as the viewer moves around them. While McCorkle’s and Long’s works concern themselves with mimicking motion, Derbes’ sculptures demand that the viewer circle around, trying to pin down which of the sculptures’ faces are real and which are a mirage.

Although unity in curation is certainly nothing to complain about, the combination of the three artists’ works is almost too smooth. The formal similarities across all three bodies of work, particularly the repetition and experimentation with linear planes and Derbes’s and Long’s overlapping color palettes, ultimately leave the exhibition lacking in contrast and tension.

3-Sided Square is on view at Marcia Wood Gallery in Atlanta through September 26.

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