Daiga Grantina: Temples
April 12 – May 22, 2021
Daiga Grantina’s engagement with sculpture is opulently panoramic and exacting. Her purview handles material acutely and intuitively, accreting relational assemblages or singularly charged compositions—in each case they are profoundly about their material. For Temples, her first exhibition in London, Grantina deviates from her suspended, coagulant, and deliquescent complexes of form to unfold a sculptural poetics of more subtle and studious manner.
This departure is foremost established in response to the planar surface, with a majority of wall-based works further accommodated by a partition echoing parallel lines of the existing exhibition space. This spatial negotiation formulates another instructive variant: Grantina’s use of the imperfect triangle as geometric lens and structuring device for each numbered “Temple” (2020–21), partnering lightly sawn, elongated triangles of wood as substrate for material testing. Despite a liminal artifactual presence, their titular echo of monumentality diffuses majestic density in favor of rhythmic, meticulous sensuous enquiry.
In Temple #5, graphite lines striate the lateral wooden triangles, their crosshatched haze interfusing with the wood’s outermost splintering edges. Three seams of feathers occupy the center with lambent tips like flared brushes in colors shifting from amber, sienna, and mahogany to clouded down. A chartreuse pencil line bisects the work horizontally, evoking, I am informed, the “green flash”—an optical phenomena that occurs transiently at sunset or sunrise, where changes in Earth’s atmosphere cause sunlight to refract at different frequencies, glowing green. The gesture deftly intensifies Grantina’s process-driven reflections on the shimmering particularity and evanescent magnitude of visual experience. Naturally, light’s immateriality facilitates a pursuit of destabilizing quality. In Temple #4, carved plastic sheets incur fibrillating waves at their edges; each is overlaid like sliced agate to create a cross-sectional stratum with reflections and shadows incarnating its own dimensions. Temple #6 is tilted and gridded by three cylindrical batons; darkly punctual in lacquering shades of molasses with triangles freckled by unctuous sea sparkle of golden yellows and scarcely detectable blues. The inked, cratered coating prompts gravelly, terrestrial qualities, yet the crinkled foil, with its palette of caffeinated stains puddled by mulberry speckles, renders a parched and friable shed skin.
In the minutiae of material choice and gestural mark, Grantina’s “Temples” achieve differing temporalities and light frequencies, which ultimately prolong the experience of looking. One attunes to detail as its own matrix: the system within a seam; the aberrations of a graphite line; the infinitesimal facets of scrunched foil; the pentagonal perforations of gauzy textile; the squashy corpus of folded fabric. The “Temples” evidence that every material holds its own time, comes into the world differently, much like the non-linearity of time itself: its protrusive shocks and lapsing reversals as parallels and entanglements over pointed destinations. Articulating its eponymous etymological root meaning “to rest, be quiet,” kweie (2020), an irregular fabric grid composed of placed feathers, is its own caesura. The pattern recalls a rug gifted to Grantina by her grandmother and, much like the discernment of memory, it requires intimacy to distinguish its mercurial life: the fluctuant hues of ivory, walnut, bronze, metallic teal, and the impressionistic blur of overall plumule.
The “Temples” accentuate transversal communication among other, more durational works, such as vase and Certain locations attract events (both 2020). Each incorporates Grantina’s gibbous chrysalides of hand-dyed and resin-stiffened stretched spandex—informally known as her “Buff” forms for their referral to the quality of buffalo skin, as well as the verb “to buff.” Indeed, they exude a rubbed sheen. But this skin is more an interface for light; its precarity appears almost soluble. Of chlorinated blue and dipped black, vase’s efflorescence forms two undulant ovals screwed to curvilinear brackets of wood, the membrane is held in beetling swell where light befogs at certain flexures, and hydrates in others. Its lamina camouflages fractal, fern frost wrinkles. The poison-dart frog red of Certain locations attract events employs the indicia of curled wood as floating flakes whose streaky texture mimics moiré; tangerine fabric nests within its mollusc shell as slippery insulation. Here, Grantina’s dyes have evolved bleary yellow colorations. This interaction of material is less a fetishization of chance and more a rigorous acknowledgment of the vibrant life of matter as it amalgamates, hardens, withers, jellies, desiccates, distends. Grantina’s plastic perhaps best expresses the vivifying vulnerability of her materials, that any suggestive completeness of form simultaneously induces horizons of ensuing mutation.
As is perhaps now clear, Grantina’s sculptures realize continuity between material transformations and imaginative processes—they compel a linguistic analogue: description. I am reminded of the smearing of description as a viscous activity, a means to make the world malleable. The sticky materiality of the mind as it describes, eating away at what surrounds oneself from within, is made generative by these sculptures. In Temple #2, roughly hewn wood is marginally visible, supporting a small, flecked pistachio green and taffy-twizzled “buff.” Its synthetic reflection causes a watery horizon line; only now it is cushioned by ample, imperishable, green.