“Into Nature: Astrid Preston and Sasha Koozel Reibstein”

at R B Stevenson Gallery

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“Transmission,” 2016, Sasha Koozel Reibstein Porcelain, alum, resin, copper, platinum and gold leaf, 7″ x 6″ 5½”
Photo: courtesy R.B. Stevenson Gallery

“Into Nature” offers a sensory profusion of color and texture combining the works of LA-based painter Astrid Preston and SD-based sculptor Sasha Koozel Reibstein. Preston’s landscapes are exaggerated with vivid color, light and lushness. Reibstein pushes the possibilities of ceramic and porcelain sculpture through a daring synthesis of crystals, abundant color, gold and copper details rendering fantastical overlapping forms connecting the human body with nature.

Influenced by Preston’s time in Japan, Landscape Memories (2016) provides an intimate view of a lily pond. In the upper foreground rectangular blue, green, and orange color blocks, reminiscent of Ellsworth Kelly and Japanese scrim, frame an idealized serene landscape. Preston masterfully deploys visual depth though the contrast between detailed foliage in the foreground and a fluid open background. Below the water’s surface, the lily pad’s undergrowth is revealed. Preston’s interpretation of nature steeped in visual pleasure revels in a hue saturated hazy ambiance in contrast with the sublime vastness of nature 19th-century romantics like Caspar David Friedrich sought to capture. Late Bloom (2014) offers a hyper-surreal counterpart to Monet’s Giverny landscapes. Preston employs multiple reflections, layers, and flourishing fauna traversing from intricate figuration to abstract sweeps of color. Floating orbs hover in the background, adding to an otherworldly effect. Preston’s bright and lavish Autumn in Kyoto (2016) may be viewed through a cluster of Reibstein’s smaller scale sculptures. Transmission (2016) boldly embraces “more is more” mixing delicate porcelain flowers with dripping ceramic configurations juxtaposed with alum crystal and delicate gold leaf. The Sky Opened Up (from hole to whole) (2016) displays a more restrained porcelain sculpture in terms of color and material, yet the oozing cave-like sculpture is equally absorbing. The pale flesh color suggests the human body, while the form conjures stalactites. Blue Sky, Fool and Candy, Candy, Candy, (all 2015) provide a jewel-like vignette of porcelain, sodium borate crystal, and pyrite works.

Reibstein’s It Would Take a Great Wind to Topple Me Now (2014), exhibited next to Preston’s A Thousand Little Dreams of the Seto Sea (2014), plays off Preston’s organic orbs, employing an array of hues from lime green to deep wine. Reibstein presents a human heart-like form with exposed arteries. A large plaster rock emerges from the ceramic piece, almost competing with the detailed sculpture. Whereas Frost (2016) seductively engulfs quartz in seeping porcelain. “Into Nature” provokes the imagination through contemporary landscape and unconventional sculpture.