David Kordansky Gallery is pleased to present Cylindrical Lenses, an exhibition of new sculptures by Fred Eversley. The exhibition is on view in New York at 520 W. 20th Street from May 6 through June 10, 2023. An opening reception will be held on Friday, May 5 from 5 to 7 PM.
Cylindrical Lenses, Eversley’s first solo gallery show in New York since 1976, is a significant occasion in the six-decade career of a pioneering artist long associated with the Light and Space movement. It represents an artistic homecoming: having worked in Los Angeles for over fifty years, in 2019, Eversley permanently returned to the city where he was born and raised.
The show also marks the debut of Eversley’s large-scale Cylindrical Lenses, a major new body of work. The six vertically oriented, monumental sculptures on view are made in tinted resin and measure between seven and nine feet tall. These luminous, free-standing objects embody the future and the past of the artist’s project, forging important connections to his earliest work. As a whole, the installation comprises a sextet in a vivid palette of violet, rose, coral, blue, cyan, and turquoise, with the sculptures positioned so that they can be seen on their own and through one another, aligning a field of multilayered colors and visual entry points.
The Cylindrical Lenses are conceptually related to the cylindrical section sculptures which were exhibited in Eversley’s first solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in the spring of 1970. At the time, the artist had recently left a career as an electrical engineer and made his invention of spinning liquid in concentric layers of dyed resin, utilizing centrifugal forces, in circular molds affixed to a rotating lathe or turntable. The resulting casts were cut and polished into various truncated shapes, starting from a small diameter, then rapidly growing in scale over a short period of time in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In preparation for the Whitney show, Eversley wrote in a letter to art historian Barbara Rose, “I am currently attempting to increase the size of the cylindrical sections into the range of 6–10 feet tall.” As his focus fully shifted to the Parabolic Lens sculptures for which he became well-known, it is only now that Eversley has returned to the vision he described in 1970, realizing the Cylindrical Lenses, which are his first group of larger-than-human-scale, free-standing, floor-based works in resin.
By displaying the Cylindrical Lenses directly on the floor, Eversley puts his work in direct relationship with the viewer’s body in ways that heighten the already immersive visual effects that characterize his Parabolic Lenses. Eversley’s scientific background informed his interest in the parabola from an early age: the only shape that focuses all forms of energy on a single focal point. “My work is all about energy,” Eversley says, “so playing with and pushing the boundaries of the parabola has been the focus of my work.” Here, he utilizes the plano-convex lens in cylindrical tapered sections; by focusing light to a single line, the silhouettes of the sliced, angled plane create parabolic arcs, both grounding bodily experience and leading the eye upward. Geometry also informs the experience of their monochromatic hue, which gradually transitions from rich saturation at its bottom, where each object meets the floor, to colorless transparency at the apex.
The simplicity and sophistication of the Cylindrical Lenses’ geometrical mass allows them to act as perfect optical instruments, and influences more than the ways in which the objects occupy space and light. Eversley has long described his work as kinetic, noting “the objects are made for spectators to amuse themselves by discovering all of the infinite combinations of internal reflections, refractions, color changes and other optical phenomena that one can perceive within an individual piece of sculpture.” This key performative facet is on full display in this exhibition, which represents one of his most far-reaching and dynamic proposals for the cultivation of audience-artwork interaction. The works on view generate an enlivening, mystifying field where stillness and motion appear to be present at the same time. Each work acts as a transcendent portal from ordinary reality into an otherworldly place. As the viewer moves around each lens’s vertical axis and discovers its optical properties, the visual field is transformed, with images of fellow viewers becoming fluid, distorted, and multiplied, shifting and dissolving, depending on the angle of the light and the viewer’s position. These effects expand the definition of individuality and independence, evoking a sense of universal awareness and experience.
Both celestial and corporeal, Cylindrical Lenses focuses attention on the oft-ignored link between the human body and the furthest reaches of the observable universe. In this respect, Eversley’s project is perhaps best understood as an expression of the same adventurous spirit that animates contemporary physics, cosmology, and astronomy: a spirit for which the unknown becomes an inexhaustible source of energy, and through which energy shows itself to be an equally metaphysical and physical phenomenon. Eversley’s ongoing yearning to express universal principles now comes full circle. These new works enable viewers to find common ground and creatively rediscover the infinite possibilities for energetic transformation embodied by all human beings. Looking through the Cylindrical Lenses, we see ourselves and others according to new perspectives, revealed in a unifying light.
Eversley (b. 1941, Brooklyn, New York) is currently at work on Cylindrical Lens installations between twelve and fourteen feet in height for public, outdoor commissions. He will be the subject of a career-spanning survey at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College in Claremont, California, as part of the 2024 Art and Science Pacific Standard Time program presented by the Getty Foundation. Eversley has also been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Orange County Museum of Art, Costa Mesa, California (2022–2023); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts (2017); Art + Practice, Los Angeles (2016); National Academy of Science, Washington, D.C. (1981); Palm Springs Art Museum, California (1977); Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1976); and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (1970). Recent group exhibitions include Light and Space, Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen (2021–2022); Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983 (2017–2020, traveled to five venues); Space Shifters, Hayward Gallery, London (2018); Dynamo – A Century of Light and Motion in Art, Grand Palais, Paris (2013); Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945–1980 (Getty Foundation, 2011; traveled to Gropius Bau, Berlin, 2012). His work is in the permanent collections of more than three dozen museums throughout the world, including Tate Modern, London; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas; Museum of Modern Art, New York; K11 Art Foundation, Hong Kong; and Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The first monograph dedicated to Eversley’s work was published by David Kordansky Gallery in 2022. Eversley lives and works in New York City.