In the face of devastation and chaos, can beauty and sublimity arise? Richard Ehrlich poses this question in his newest exhibition, 27 Miles: Abstract Truth.
In November of 2018, in the wake of the Woolsey Fire, visual artist and longtime Malibu resident Richard Ehrlich photographed the destruction of fire imprinted on his neighborhood, not just documenting the landscapes of loss, but also photographing details in abstract. Melted metal and withered paint cover cars in Ehrlich’s photographs, but only in a wider view would one see this. Taken intuitively, the images reference his Surface Aria work, wherein he captured the abstractions of sculptural surfaces. Once again drawn to the abstraction, Ehrlich documented the colorations and textures of car doors destroyed from the fire. As Ehrlich captures the burnt surfaces coating his town, he evokes the notion that beauty can arise from devastation. The images document a dichotomous visual relationship between beauty and devastation; the luminous textures and colors in the photographs create a profoundly unsettling experience as the viewer is confronted with the knowledge that this beauty was born from destruction.
The Woolsey Fire burned through vast acres of Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, leaving many residents without homes. While resources initially came to aid the first responders and victims of the fire, attention quickly passed to the next wave of events. The destruction of the fire left a lasting impact and over six months later many of those affected remain displaced and are still counting on donations and assistance. In support of the victims of the wildfires who still struggle to rebuild, Ehrlich seeks to raise funds through the exhibition. A significant portion of funds from sales of works in 27 Miles: Abstract Truth will be donated to The California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund.
The exhibition will also include works from Ehrlich’s practice of photographing Malibu in multifaceted forms of abstraction. In Ehrlich’s body of work, Las Flores Canyon, the artist experiments with time, recording the sun’s ascent and descent with exposures lasting days and months. Ehrlich further abstracts his surroundings in Homage to Rothko, wherein he creates color fields from the sky, sea and horizon line. Ehrlich’s experimentations are evident impressions of his novel and imaginative vision of the familiar Malibu landscape.
27 Miles: Abstract Truth is currently on view in Bergamot Station’s B7 Space.
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