A dazzle of geometric abstraction

Around a decade ago, issues like reality and its simulation, truth and its copy preoccupied the art world. Several artists at the time played with the idea of virtual reality, generating images that seemed real and all-encompassing but were in fact fabricated and fictitious. Produced at a time when the effects of the mass media were a constant topic of debate, such images considered how our perception of reality is mediated and information manipulated to the point where the difference between an original and its copy is made indistinguishable. Often strangely accepting of this new reality, such images often seemed mocking and kitsch, grotesque and inviting at the same time, both part of and wary of the media-governed world they were addressing. Although the interplay between reality and its representation still interests art – in a broad sense, it is after all a perennial issue – the perspective has changed. The emphasis has now shifted from the media and the concern with authenticity or originality to the advances in computer and digital technology. The point of interest now is how technology shapes our perception and offers new visual and cognitive experiences. The work of New York-based artist Torben Giehler, currently on at the Eleni Koroneou Gallery until February 26, captures this new concern. Along the lines of geometric abstraction, Giehler’s works are sweeping, digital-like landscapes made by diagonal, crisscrossing lines and strong, electric colors. They often seem like aerial views, or dazzling and illusionary panoramas. Using bold, acrylic colors and skewed perspectives, Giehler creates a speedy and vertiginous visual effect that reverberates with video-game and computer aesthetics. But the mass-culture, transient quality that runs through computer graphics and video games is completely absent in Giehler’s works. Overwhelming, and made with wonderful technical skill and study, his paintings are reminiscent of Mondrian’s modernist grid. The combination of color and geometry and the sharpened understanding of space and structure remind the viewer of modernism’s formalist quests. But the mood could not get any more contemporary and upbeat. Nor can the technique that Giehler uses, a process which involves a digital and computer manipulation of his original images. Working in a style that is current among a number of other contemporary artists – among them Sarah Morris, Jim Lambie or Matthew Ritchie – Giehler creates an imaginary and engaging view of the world. Eleni Koroneou Gallery, 5-7 Mitsaion, tel 210.924.4271 (by appointment only).