MSJC’s Art Gallery presents ‘Specific Abstractions’

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The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery closes “Specific Abstractions,” a group exhibition curated by Los Angeles-based arts writer Matt Stromberg. Mt. San Jacinto College photo

SAN JACINTO – The Mt. San Jacinto College Art Gallery closed “Specific Abstractions,” a group exhibition curated by Los Angeles-based arts writer Matt Stromberg featuring work by Tanya Aguiñiga, Rachid Bouhamidi, Leonardo Bravo, Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, John Knuth, Dan Levenson, Rubén Ortiz Torres and Brenna Youngblood. The show challenged the understanding of abstraction as a universal language, a pure exploration of form, color and material.

Stromberg gave a tour on the final day of the exhibit Thursday, Sept. 12.

This premise was informed by the Guggenheim Museum show “Josef Albers in Mexico,” which traces the connection between the modernist master’s geometric abstractions and his love of pre-Columbian art and architecture that he encountered while traveling throughout Mexico.

“The Homage to the Square paintings are sometimes caricatured as the epitome of detached, cerebral art, a manifestation of a singular faith in geometry. Yet the works have also been connected to specific locations in Mexico,” curator Lauren Hinkson said in her catalogue essay.

“Specific Abstractions” at MSJC brought together eight contemporary artists who work in abstract and geometric modes, but whose paintings, textiles and sculptures draw on a wide range of influences and references, representing a heterogeneous, tangled and witty rejoinder to the notion of abstraction’s aloof objectivity.

Some of these artists, including Tanya Aguiñiga, Leonardo Bravo and Lorenzo Hurtado Segovia, draw on traditional Latin American art forms and techniques, fusing them with strains of modernism and popular culture. Similarly, Rachid Bouhamidi incorporates Moroccan design motifs and imagery in his paintings, prints and installations that serve as sites for tea ceremonies. Other artists like John Knuth, Dan Levenson and Rubén Ortiz Torres interrogate the history of abstraction, contesting the genre’s associations with timelessness or spirituality. Brenna Youngblood offers a refutation of abstraction’s discreet purity, with hybrid objects that are unmistakably of this world.

Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The gallery is on MSJC’s San Jacinto Campus at 1499 N. State St., Building 1400. Learn more about MSJC’s art gallery at www.msjc.edu/artgallery, call (951) 487-3585 or email jknuth@msjc.edu.

Submitted by Mt. San Jacinto College.