The Drawers - John Noestheden  Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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The sparkling surface overwhelms the conceptual base and so it is with any great work of art. What is it that we revere - the Bellini or the Madonna, the Picasso or the profound sorrow of Guernica, the Twombly or the battle, Lepanto? The phenomenal object, the work of art, although it may have been born of grand concepts, it is the enduring physicality that provokes awe. And so it is with a Noestheden.

The initial source of inspiration and configuration is the night sky under which man has stood marveling for eons. As a subject, astronomy contains the secrets of the origin of life coupled with the overwhelming concept of infinite space. The imagination must stretch to encompass the possibility of life forms, perhaps intelligent ones that go beyond our limited philosophies. From this great source, John Noestheden brings the imagery closer by using illustrations and star maps of star systems as his base material - the night sky interpreted through the knowledge of man. Then he extracts a small section of the depiction and magnifies it using them as inflated models of some detail of the universe. He meticulously transcribes the details, first in pencil and then in ink, paint or crystals and presents his examination. The result is an abstract wonder, a phenomenally beautiful object, perhaps as wondrous as the night sky.

John's hand, in service to his conceptual master plan, also raises admiration for the making of these sparkling drawings or fanatically precise ink renderings is almost beyond comprehension. Such exactitude! The art of pasting the tiny crystals onto the paper in rigidly-adhered-to images, (the crystals had been dispersed by vibration systems, as in the universe) and the painstaking task that must have been, provokes awe. But the most incredible aspect of Noestheden's work is the leap that he made from concept into material and the resulting work of art. If ever that term 'work of art' can be applied, it is in the presence of a Noestheden silver crystal drawing.

Noestheden's work, abstract at first reading, is actually representational. John captures the wonder of the night sky. It is necessary, like standing under the canopy of stars, to experience the work first-hand, for as the viewer moves around, the tiny diamond-like crystals sparkle and bounce off the retina as if they were receiving an electrical pulse. It is the phenomenology of binocular vision, a resultant visual illusion as one eye sees, then the next follows, just as the light from space is often old light from an extinguished source.

Copyright 2006,  Headbones Gallery, The Drawers