Thomas Linder and Sculptures of a Los Angeles River
By Mike Nesbit
“LA STORY… I came out here [ LA ] and it was all theory, with very little art history, just a lot of theory.”
History and Theory have become quite transparent within contemporary representation and by transparent, I mean difficult to objectify. History relies on the misrepresentation of context, at a period where context is increasingly shifting. Theory on the other hand, attempts to derive itself from an internal vacuum excluding itself from context all together (a seemingly impossible task). Within that framework contemporary Art becomes difficult to Judge as a majority of work has trouble placing itself within History and or Theory, this is not a critique but an observation. The inability to successfully judge one’s own work without a disciplinary understanding of these foundational qualities makes it difficult for the work to be critically addressed within its own terms. Now, it could be we are in a period of Surface Assessment, where it is what it is, you as the viewer “Like it” or you don’t. But, I’d have to believe there’s a bit more to it. The Viewer should be able to come up with there own meaning in relationship to the work and the context in which it’s observed, but in order to have a substantial impact within the inner culture of Art and the broader audience who might disregard it all together, it needs to do both (easier said than done).
When viewing Thomas Linder’s recent work, it presents itself 2-fold. Meaning and Appreciation can be derived from purely observing the objects, without any previous knowledge of theoretical and or historical references. To just give attention to the way in which ambiguous light passes through the nuanced qualities of color that collage and splash across a bellied surface. The intentional craft and detail of an exposed frame that’s truthful to its construction and aware of its position to the medium its supporting. Relationships of scale, height, and proportions are carefully articulated in a way that allows even the most inexperienced viewer a way in.
Now, what’s relevant about Linder’s work is not only it accessibility, but its knowledge/ ownership of the historical context in which it’s created. For the studio sits itself on the east side of Los Angeles underneath a most monolithic bridge anxiously consuming a 24hr cycle of unwavering construction. A bridge that will span the very element that becomes the contextual starting point for Linder’s recent work… the Los Angeles River. The River itself paints an interesting platform for Abstraction… as any notion of what traditionally defines a natural occurrence within the landscape has been intentionally manipulated/ collaged with concrete at the scale of an open-ended reservoir. This misrepresentation alone becomes enough to go from literal sectional qualities of the river itself combined with ephemeral qualities of contextual atmosphere (light) and produce work that quickly leaps from a historical derivative of the river itself to something much more Abstract. Through Linder’s own personal techniques within Representation (resin and fiberglass) he’s able to propel historical context through theory as a means to produce objects that can stand alone.
Angeles Sunset beneath Frozen Reservoirs
towering scaffolded bridge hovering a primitive hut
skeletal shadowed Reservoir… river hints of Resin
collage of color, translucent western light
fetish to process not finish, horizontal drips
osb floors lay tangent to Fiberglass Bellies
scale and Diptych observe unforgotten parts
cranes carrying casted steel… seductive Resin pinching static air
objects standing tall, intentional heights
judgement not removed, one restrains wandering eyes
a courageous feat…