‘2000 Car Paintings’ is the name of a work of art by Hap Tivey that manipulates ideas of light. It is an installation that will consume the entire gallery space of San Art. As a viewer, you will walk into a darkened space where the light of a projected image is thrown from the rear of the space onto a crafted sculpture of rubber. The audience will be able to see two different images from both sides of the projection screen. The artist states: ‘When the video is running we may ‘see’ cars exploding, people in flames, bridges, buildings, water. When the video is paused, as it will periodically of its own accord, or if a viewer activates the pause function with the remote control, we can only see the abstract light falling on convoluted surfaces ….. Every painting is a surface of light. We never see a ‘thing’ when we look at a painting. We see the light reflected from the surface and we imagine the ‘thing’ just as we imagine the illusion of a horse, a crucifixion or Cezanne’s wife. I began working with light in chambers in which one could only see light; one could not find any trace or suggestion of ‘things’. This work is a logical evolution of that beginning.’ Hap Tivey (b. 1947, Portland, Oregon, USA) began creating light installations and sculptures during the late 60s in Los Angeles. For more than thirty years, Tivey’s art has investigated the phenomena of light. In installation, painting, sculpture and projection, he has pursued the concrete experience of light as well as the emotional and theoretical implications it holds for the human condition. Tivey’s work has a significant exhibition history in the USA and abroad, including representation in such public collections as Museum of Modern Art and Solomon. R. Guggenheim, New York, USA.
We understand the world we see by recognizing structure and light. “Light Shreds: 2000 Car Paintings” is a hybrid art work– a combination of structure and light that uses video and shredded tires as its medium. This work is literally 2000 still images following each other. It presents a visual experience in a rectangle, like a large painting in which the brushstrokes are physical objects – tires shreds – and the color is light. Unlike a static painting, “Light Shreds” moves and as it moves it changes. At first a viewer may only see color moving across the structure. If one watches for a few minutes, one understands the video light as a series of dramatic car crashes. These images are only visible when the video is moving. When it pauses, it becomes a static painting of colorful shapes and the crashes disappear. When one watches, one’s experience shifts from the imaginary images of the video to the physical image of the tire composition. Sometimes one sees structure; sometimes one sees light. Sometimes one hears music; sometimes one hears traffic in the streets. This installation offers a dialogue of contrast: violent images and structure on one side of the screen and beautiful color shifting around shadows in a haze of blue on the other side. An imaginary world of explosions, crashes and turbulent drama suddenly stops and a luscious abstract painting appears. A romantic sound track occasionally interrupted by the noise of tearing metal and a child crying out “cars” suddenly goes silent and reveals the very real and unending sound of Saigon traffic.