Franklin Parrasch is pleased to present Pole Star, an exhibition of recent paintings by renowned earthwork and light artist Charles Ross. The works in this show are the first of their kind: their imagery captures celestial geometries inspired by Star Axis, Ross’ monumental earth/sky work and naked eye observatory, conceived of in 1971 and nearing completion in New Mexico. Pole Star marks Ross’ third solo exhibition at the gallery.
The Pole Star paintings are contemplations on our internal connection with the celestial pole. In these works, the unknowable bounds of the cosmos are punctuated only by constellations and traces of the stars as the earth turns on its axis. This series engages a postmodern visual strategy – the centrally-oriented image harkens to work by such contemporaries to Ross as Jasper Johns and Kenneth Noland – but, crucially, considers qualities of the stars and sky which have been observed and visualized for millennia, and whose earth-to-star alignments are built into Star Axis. Concentric circular bands hover above an infinite depth of monochrome planes referencing the experience of light as a constant yet fugitive trace of line and contesting chromatic presence. Fields of delicately brushed Flashe reveal little to no proof of the artist’s hand; this media’s matte appearance avails the impression of depth of space analogous to the night sky. Ross’ Pole Star paintings conjure perspectives imagined while walking up Star Axis’s “Star Tunnel” stairs, which are perfectly aligned with Earth’s axis and its outward extension to the stars.
Star Axis is eleven stories high and 1/10 mile wide. Located on a remote mesa in the eastern plains of New Mexico, this earth/sky work has been under construction by the artist and his team since 1976.
Charles Ross (B. 1937, Philadelphia, PA) has long explored the substance of light, time, and planetary motion-qualities related to the cosmos and the long journey and multiplicities of light. As an undergraduate student studying mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, Ross developed an interest in spatial geometry, movement, and the inanimate object. In Ross’ senior year, he took a sculpture course to fulfill a liberal arts requirement and discovered great possibility, and a latent interest in making sculpture by applying the abstract and esoteric thinking he learned in math.
Ross enrolled in Berkeley’s graduate sculpture program shortly after completing his undergraduate degree in 1960, and received his M.A. in Art in 1962; in 1961, San Francisco’s Dilexi Gallery held Ross’ first exhibition. Ross’ subsequent work with the Judson Dancers, in New York during a year-long fine art fellowship, and choreographer Anna Halprin, in San Francisco, continued to inform his consideration of space and form. It was Sol LeWitt, who visited Ross’ studio in New York while Ross was developing his groundbreaking large-scale transparent prism sculptures, who enthusiastically recommended that storied gallerist and patron Virginia Dwan meet Ross. Dwan Gallery held Ross’ first solo exhibition in 1968, and continued to work with the artist until 1971 when Dwan closed her gallery. Later, in the early 1990s, Ross and Dwan collaborated with architect Laban Wingert on The Dwan Light Sanctuary located on the campus of United World College (Montezuma, NM) and dedicated in 1996. The Dwan Light Sanctuary is a place of quiet reflection in which Ross placed 24 large-scale prisms, aligned precisely with the sun to produce large solar spectrums always evolving and moving throughout the circular architecture with the passage of the sun.
Charles Ross is a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, recipient of a 1999 Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Eugene V. and Clare Thaw Charitable Trust, Someland Foundation, and McCune Charitable Foundation, to name a few. His works reside in the permanent collections of numerous institutions internationally including National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; Des Moines Art Center; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe; and The Penn Art Collection, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.
Notable permanent site-specific works include: Spectrum Chamber, Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart, Tasmania (2018); Conversations with the Sun, Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan (2004); Spectrum 8, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. (2004); Spectrum 123, Saitama University, Saitama, Japan (1999); The Dwan Light Sanctuary, Montezuma, NM (1996); Year of Solar Burns, Château d’Oiron, Oiron, France (1993); and Solar Spectrum, Harvard Business School Chapel, Boston, MA (1992).
Notable museum exhibitions featuring Charles Ross’ work include: Charles Ross: Hanging Islands, as part of the exhibition Spaces, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2018-2019); By repetition, you start noticing details in the landscape, Bâtiment d’art contemporain, Geneva , Switzerland (2019); Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018-2019); Cosmogonies – au gré des éléments, Musée d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain (MAMAC), Nice, France (2018); Los Angeles to New York: Dwan Gallery, 1959-1971, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2016-2017); Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2012); and Atlas, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2010). Ross is included in James Crump’s 2015 film Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, an official selection of the 53rd New York Film Festival, alongside other Earthwork artists as Vito Acconci, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson.
Pole Star will be on view at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, 19 East 66 Street, New York, NY from November 3—December 16, 2022. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, November 3 from 5—7PM. The gallery is open Monday through Friday, 11a-6p. Appointments may be made by visiting https://fpg.as.me/schedule.php. An elevator is available for access. For further information, please contact the gallery at email@example.com or (212) 246-5360.