John Laddie Dill: Light Sentences and Light Traps


January 16–June 12, 2016

A central figure in the California Light and Space movement, Laddie John Dill has been using a combination of weighty and incandescent elemental materials to construct luminous sculptures, formalistic wall pieces, and site-specific installations since the 1960s. This split-gallery survey combines artwork from Dill’s argon and mercury gas Light Sentences series, a Light Plains sand and light creation, and several new aircraft aluminum wall pieces in the Light Traps series.

Presented in a darkened portion of the Groves gallery, Light Sentences is an installation of incandescent vertical tubes. Originally created in 1968, these colorful glowing bars lead into the Light Plains installation, a horizontal landscape of fluorescent lights strategically placed over and through mounds of sand. The combination of the two installations fuses topographical and architectural imagery, changing as viewers pass through the lights and view the miniature landmasses of sand from different angles.

In the opposing portion of the gallery, light manipulation takes a different form with the reflective surfaces of aircraft aluminum wall pieces. Each two-dimensional metal plane in the Light Traps series is polished and ground to a high shine, trapping and releasing light from surrounding sources to create a three-dimensional optical effect. The silvery grey of the aluminum forms a stark contrast to the effervescent burst of glowing colors from the darkened portion of the exhibition

The combination of materials not typically found in fine art highlights the interplay between intangible and substantial earthy materials, unified into a consistent industrial aesthetic. Dill manipulates light around the austere elemental dunes of sand and planes of metal, creating a dialog of weighty solid materials and shifting lights results in variable and unique experiences for each individual viewer.


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