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Tim Eads at Pentimenti Gallery


[Jennifer enjoys Tim Eads’ current show at Pentimenti Gallery–a mix of seemingly effortless whimsy and serious engineering considerations. — the Artblog editors]

Through Dec. 15, Pentimenti Gallery is exhibiting recent sculptures by Philadelphia-based artist Tim Eads. Here, Eads presents his current wall-hanging constructions, a freestanding work, and one large-scale installation in the gallery’s Project Room. Nineteen works in total evince Eads’ playful, process-based approach to making and his nuanced articulations with such diverse materials as LED lights, sheets of acrylic, fiberglass, steel, plastic tubing, industrial ink, and nylon cord.

Bright colors and complex patterns

Tim Eads, Acoustic Panel (black), 34 x 13.5 x 5 inches, Ink on acrylic, 2014, image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.
Tim Eads, “Acoustic Panel (black)” (2014), ink on acrylic, 34″ x 13.5″ x 5″. Image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.

The majority of works can be loosely organized into two modes. There are the smaller sculptures made of varied acrylic shapes pieced together into vibrant, dynamic, three-dimensional forms. These works have a surface decoration achieved by screen-printing the flat sheet of acrylic prior to cutting it into shapes. The bright colors, overlapping patterns, and patchwork construction support an interpretation that these singular sculptures are born from the hybrid influences of crazy quilts, Op Art prints, and even the installations for which Eads is, most recently, best known.

Tim Eads, Five Red Drips, 54.5 x 36 x 37 inches, Steel, polyethylene & paint, 2013, image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.
Tim Eads, “Five Red Drips” (2013), steel, polyethylene, and paint, 54.5″ x 36″ x 37″. Image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.

The second mode of work consists of larger wall-hanging and freestanding sculptures made from looping connections of steel and plastic tubing, or hard steel shapes that become minimalist, abstract line drawings in space. Closed forms and repeating units characterize these works, and the connections between steel and rubber tubing are reminiscent of the ways that circuitry may connect. Material pleasures and physical contrasts are highlighted: industrial steel is warmed by bright, hot colors or the glow of LED lights; round rubber tubing meets square steel effortlessly.

Eads’ continuous process of creation

Tim Eads, Stratigraphy Study 03, 30 x 23.5 x 5 inches, Ink on acrylic, 2014, image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.
Tim Eads, “Stratigraphy Study 03″ (2014), ink on acrylic, 30″ x 23.5″ x 5”. Image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.

Eads’ acrylic sculptures seem to reveal readily the process from which they originated, and virtually continue a process of making while hanging in the gallery. “Stratigraphy Study 03” exemplifies how active and activating these works can be. The acrylic shapes seem to grow and shift organically, the title confirming references to tectonic plates and strata. This effect relates to what Eads described in his artist talk as a “prolific and decisive” working process, a way of making that involves repeatedly trying things out, moving around and layering the pieces of acrylic–sketching in three dimensions, essentially, until the result feels “emotionally right”.

There are also wonderful chance elements that occur when these sculptures hang on the wall. Interesting shadows are cast as the gallery lights move through the printed acrylic, lending each work a unique, site-specific abstraction on which to rest; the lights reveal an otherwise unseen twin.

Tim Eads, Lamp, 54.5 x 36 x 37 inches, steel, wood, paint & LED lights, 2014, image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.
Tim Eads, “Lamp” (2014), steel, wood, paint, and LED lights, 54.5″ x 36″ x 37″. Image courtesy of Pentimenti Gallery, Philadelphia.

Other works contain their own light. “Lamp” is a freestanding sculpture with a circle of steel that contains a row of small, golden-colored LED bulbs. When I first saw the sculpture, my mind conjured the association that the circle of golden lights was like a ring of fire, and that a small, steel beam was jumping through it, performing some sort of trick. This joyful, almost circus-like effect is heightened when looking at “Lamp” against Eads’ shiny blue-and-silver wallpaper, titled “Wind,” printed with a repeating zigzag pattern. There is a lot of whimsy in Eads’ work, and looking at “Lamp” and the wallpaper together is a fun and beautiful moment.

It is not only fun and games, however. “Lamp” is supported in full by the thin steel beam that bends at right angles through space and makes contact with the floor in just three places. It is clear that this work, and indeed so many sculptures here, is masterfully and carefully crafted and must have posed a considerable engineering challenge. Tim Eads just makes it look so easy.

Tim Eads: Vector Forms is the artist’s first solo show with Pentimenti Gallery; the exhibition is on view through Dec. 15, 2014. Pentimenti Gallery is located at 145 N. Second Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106, and is open Tuesday by appointment, Wednesday – Friday: 11 am – 5 pm, Saturday: noon – 5 pm.