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Friday, February 4, 2011

Allan Wendt, "Black Drawings", Feb 11 - Mar 11

PRESS RELEASE: Graphite Genius Allan Wendt Exhibits Magical New Work at ART+CAYCE
From 5-8 pm on Friday, February 11, ART+CAYCE at 1329 State St. in Cayce will host a reception for the opening of Charleston artist Allan Wendt's remarkable exhibition, "Black Drawings." Two dozen pieces on exhibit until March 11 reveal Wendt's fascination with "nothingness," the creation of meaning from absence. With graphite pencil alone Wendt manages to capture an eerie luminescence, a subtle range of shimmering tones that emerge from line and shadow. Alfred Willis, PhD, explains Wendt's expressive abstract drawings: "In art, the minimal and the monochromatic are often mistaken for something that means nothing, just because they look like nothing; or rather, next to nothing." By exploring the infinite possibilities of a basic drafting technique, however, Wendt has opened up startling, and completely unexpected, artistic vistas: glistening concentric volumes that look like collapsing stars or planes of iridescent foil resembling the richest brocade. It's a visual feast, and a conjuring trick, as magical as magic itself. In fact, Willis calls Wendt a "manual artist who creates with his mind and commands with his hand but produces with his wand." Sometimes the illusionist reveals his secrets. Wendt describes his own sorcery: "all of my drawings evolve with the ever-changing light. They can be legitimately taken as things conjured up by layering of short rapid pencil strokes until the receiving medium is completely obscured by overlapping strata of graphite." Art students beginning with graphite or charcoal could hardly imagine the rabbits that Wendt pulls out of his hat. But can Harry Potter see himself as Albus Dumbledore?

Wendt is an architect by training, and his work has a serious architectural philosophy: space—a kind of nothingness—can be achieved by enclosure. The positive elements of four walls and a roof create an experience of solid emptiness, the oxymoron achieved in Wendt's deeply introspective drawings. But the artist is philosophical in others ways, too. He is influenced by a number of western philosophers, including Martin Heidegger. "In principle," Heidegger remarks, "nothingness remains inaccessible to science." That position agrees with a statement made by Thomas Crow: "the icon does not passively submit to the analytical dissection of the humanist interpreter." Wendt appreciates the role of the artist as the creator and interpreter of feeling—of cool passion.

Wendt has been drawing and sculpting all his life. Born in Columbia, he graduated from Clemson with a degree in architecture and a minor in sculpture studio art. His work evolved through a disciplined study of the human figure at full scale, and after decades of effort his body of work conveys an epic narrative. Drawings from this series have been shown in solo and group exhibitions throughout the region, including the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Charleston City Gallery at Waterfront Park. The new body of work "Black Drawings" has recently appeared in the 20th Anniversary Juried Exhibition at the Lipscomb Art Gallery of the South Carolina State Museum, and was recently accepted at the New York City Drawing Center. Wendt currently works at the Charleston Studio of Art and Architecture, which he established in 1992.