More Love

Inman Gallery
November 10, 2017 - January 13, 2018
Reception: Friday, November 10, 6 - 8 pm

At once investigations of surface and depth, representation and reality, Shaun O'Dell's newest body of works on paper are as much documents of broader philosophical inquiries as they are explorations of the physical and creative properties of volcanoes. The ten drawings included in More Love are part of a larger project and film titled At Last, in which two people travel along fault lines in Iceland, Greece, and California. Their pursuit of volcanoes charts a proposition about natural phenomena and authorship; that is, the project centers the volcano, with its earth-shaping eruptions as a formative progenitor of human concepts of meaning and representation. The volcano--and, by extension, the Earth--is a creative force.

"We are involved in these [geologic] processes, but also distanced from them," O'Dell says. In More Love, then, he pushes at the boundaries between these temporalities: the time of the human experience and the time of the shifting earth have their various speeds. In each, the momentum of change lends itself to narratives of emotional process, just at varying scales. Based on years of research on geologic time, water, seismic and volcanic activity, the works might be understood as images of processes--both personal and geologic--as they unfold. More Love Two, for example, might read as a bird's eye view of magma, a closeup of the sympathetic yet opposed elements water and fire, or blots of color in a Rorschach-like organism. In More Love Five, O'Dell overlaps various topographic silhouettes of volcanic forms, the repeating points and valleys divided by three horizontal lines. "The volcano produces a surface and a depth," he notes, suggesting a simultaneous relationship to abstractions of three-dimensionality. More Love Eight takes the specific outlines of the 1500 active volcanoes from around the world and describes them within a tightly choreographed rectangular shape, the tiny ink representations of volcanoes spiraling into a geometric form that vibrates in the viewer's eye, finding an uneasy tension between two- and three-dimensions.

Begun several years ago, as he was investigating the effects of the shift between the Pleistocene and Holocene eras, O'Dell's volcano research sprang from his interest in water and, especially, an urge to see what was behind waterfalls. More Love Four with its nod to the imagined spaces of Surrealist trompe-l'oeil has a series of spidery lines emerging from the center of a deep gray square. These delicate white lines might suggest a waterfall: behind it, the blackness of a solid block, and the edge of an iceberg-like blue protrusion. We see landscape forms in abstraction, as we see ourselves in clouds; the human and the natural orders are deeply intertwined, physically, psychologically, affectively, and productively, O'Dell reminds us.

Shaun O'Dell (born 1968, Beeville, TX) received a BA from the New College of California, San Francisco, in 2002 and an MFA from Stanford University in 2004. His work has been exhibited widely in the US and internationally. He has won numerous awards and honors including the Tournesol Award (2009, Headlands Center for the Arts), Diebenkorn Teaching Fellowship (2006, SF Art Institute), and the Artadia Award (2005, San Francisco). His work is included in a number of permanent collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, NY, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Berkeley Art Museum. O'Dell lives and works in San Francisco. More Love is O'Dell's fourth solo exhibition at Inman Gallery.