The Channa Horwitz installation begins with a bird’s eye view of a brightly painted orange grid, enterable by way of a small set of stairs. The grid is comprised on the four walls of the bottom floor of the gallery space. The second floor acts as an observation balcony from which the viewer looks into the lattice-painted room as though one was looking in to her drawings; technical charts of data documenting pattern, motion, and time. Horwitz follows a logic system, through which its constraints allow for an abundant amount of freedom found in each piece. But unlike the meticulous drawings that she has shown at Made in LA and throughout Los Angeles in recent years, slipping on a pair of booties and walking into the piece provides a physically immersive experience. We become the variables and data that make up Horwitz’s charts.
Grid paper has the feeling of resoluteness and accuracy, which is why it has been something ideal for documenting information. Yet here, the orange painted lattice marks on the unforgiving gallery walls suggest a level of spontaneity for Horwitz. The bodies entering and moving around in the installation are in constant flux, not just for the data, but for the artist to deal with as well.
A black cube fits precisely into one of the grid’s squares, like a unit of measurement. The sculptural element acts as an interesting detail to the piece, as people can rest or move it around the installation. The bodies in the space are suddenly more striking as we realize that we the viewers are in control of the grid.
A trip up the last set of stairs in Ghebaly’s space reveals a second window. This one, recently knocked out, feels almost private. Watching the scene from the upper balcony we are thrice removed. In providing a double window, Horwitz gives us a sense of power as we witness the grid develop. Joyfulness runs through her imagery as well as a surprised awe at how things unfold and intertwine around her. Horwitz, who has been working on her graphs and color-coded shapes on paper or Mylar since the 80’s and making work since the 60’s, takes a brave departure into her first installation work shown in the the US.
Prior to the publication of this article Channa Horwitz passed away Monday, April 29th 2013 from complications of Crohn’s disease at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. She was 80.
Orange Grid is on view April 18-June 8th 2013 at Francois Ghebaly. Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm or by appointment. For more information visit here.
-Contributed by Hailey Loman