Richard Young – A Delicate Balance
As I neared the building, my bicycle became dwarfed by the blue tiled prow-like building that contains the Blue Galleries at Boise State University. I had finally made it there on the last day of the exhibition, Richard Young – A Delicate Balance.
I entered the galleries not via the main entrance, but through another door which led into one of the two galleries for the 2022 Annual Student Juried Exhibition. As I moved into the main gallery, the room became more expansive and Young’s work was laid out before me.
I was immediately drawn to the clean lines of the works without frames, the repeated grid structures and elements of exposed natural wood within the artworks. Many of the pieces literally pushed the boundaries with small blocks attached to the edges, along with found printer’s plates attached to the surfaces.
The artist states, “A Delicate Balance explores loss and recovery, equilibrium and flux, and past and present.” A sense of nostalgia and mystery also pervaded the work. The artworks were exhibited together into sections with one label disclosing the titles for that grouping. Gulf, was in a grouping of pieces on the title wall.
Reminiscent of Mondrian’s pieces, blocks of primary colors and black and white are arranged in a gridded structure. But here, a realistic image is contain within one of the shapes. Upon closer inspection, I saw that some of the color blocks are painted antique printer’s plates. The images on the plates are now obscured. Wooden blocks push beyond the rectangular edge to create asymmetrical balance.
In this same grouping was an artwork titled The Last Dance. The two sections of the picture plane echo each other with similar shapes and color. There are juxtapositions within the piece. The surface of the house image is fairly smooth while the abstracted shapes have more texture. The house image is darker with small pops of saturated color. Whereas, the colors dominate the shapes on the right. The elements dance back and forth across the dividing line.
In a Joseph Albers-like twist, there are two similar square shapes placed in approximately the same spot in both sections. Our perception of this square changes based on what surrounds it. Is it a window on the house? Or a square with battery-like shapes?
Opposite the title wall were several other works with the image divided into two sections. Listed as older works, these felt a little out of place with the rest of the works. Spool of Wire and Thomas Cole presents two disparate images. Upon further contemplation, I started to notice the similarities with shape, color, and texture.
On a different wall, another grouping of artworks caught my attention. These artworks brought to mind Rothko paintings, with their tricolor rectangular sections. Yet the shapes placed within these rectangles are objects, not just another color. One of these works was Imprint.
The printer’s block, which was a continuing thread throughout the exhibition, appears in the top third of Imprint. There appears to be an image of a face on it. The bottom third contains an old lined piece of school paper. No words are written on it. These objects raise more conceptual questions about the relationship to each other and the work.
In a more organic, seemingly random arrangement, a set of smaller artworks adorned another part of the gallery. Upon first glance the artwork, Adel 2, seems abstract a lot of visual texture. But when examined closely, the imagery of trees becomes apparent. This blurred out, slightly fuzzy imagery which was repeated throughout the exhibition, lent an air of mystery and moodiness across the various artworks.
I am very glad I was able to see this exhibition before it was deinstalled. I only wished I had been able to attend the artist talk to hear Young’s thoughts on these works. Richard Young is a retired professor and former Art Department Chair at BSU. To see more work or read more about Richard Young, please visit his website.