San Francisco

Chris Fraser: Animated at Gallery Wendi Norris

In addition to their current special issue on the legacy of punk rock, our partners at Art Practical are also blasting into the new season with their annual Shotgun series—ten short reviews by regular contributors that cover the Bay Area art scene. This review, by Danica Willard Sachs, investigates the works of artist Chris Fraser, currently on view at Gallery Wendi Norris. This article was originally published on September 24, 2015.

Chris Fraser. Mobile | 0˚, 90˚, 90˚ | Argon and Neon, 2015; powder-coated steel, gas discharge tubes, transformer, argon, and neon; 42 x 21 x 12 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

Chris Fraser. Mobile | 0˚, 90˚, 90˚ | Argon and Neon, 2015; powder-coated steel, gas discharge tubes, transformer, argon, and neon; 42 x 21 x 12 in. Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco.

Chris Fraser is an artist cum magician, employing the physics of light to create magical objects that interrogate perception. In Animated, on view at Gallery Wendi Norris, Fraser debuts two complementary bodies of work that extend his consideration of optics and perception: sculptures activated by both light and the viewer’s movement, and photograms that still the action in the sculptures.

Fraser’s sculptures mark the high point of the exhibition. Mobile | 0˚, 90˚, 90˚ | Argon and Neon (2015) is one of three similar sculptures, each approximately the size of a mirror, mounted in a row on one of the walls in the gallery. Inside a black metal frame Fraser has carefully layered perforated sheets of black metal, creating subtle, shifting kaleidoscope-like patterns in the overlap as the viewer passes by the sculpture. Each black box is flanked by pastel-hued tubes of light, variously containing compressed noble gases that emit different colors with the addition of an electrical current: Neon becomes red, argon blue, helium peach, krypton white, and xenon purple. In the case of Mobile, Fraser chooses neon and argon. These glaring red and blue tubes transform into a subtle gradient, meeting in the center as violet, seen through the shifting image created by the perforated metal. Recalling Bruce Nauman’s Neon Templates of the Left Half of My Body Taken at Ten Inch Intervals(1966) or Dan Flavin’s iconic fluorescent light sculptures, Fraser’s sculptures similarly rely on the viewer’s interaction to complete the work. As the pulsating, tinted glow of the noble gases reflects on our faces, and the image in the black boxes shifts before our eyes, we as viewers are made aware of the limits of our vision.

Read the full article here.

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