Rick Silva: Render Garden
June 28-Aug 2
Opening reception Saturday June 28, 6-9 PM

Render Garden commences its metaphorical process by confronting us initially with what might be called the density of summertime in a verdant zone.

Shared plots in the community garden. Piles of bright offerings at the farmer’s market. Random cuttings from the burgeoning bulbs and bushes in your backyard. The gradual, incremental results of the square seed packets and cubes of tomato starters you bought last month at the hardware store. Abundance, proliferation, and excess— an unavoidable inundation of color, taste and size.

Lyricism is necessarily embedded in the representation of picked flowers, trimmed house plants, and the discourse of domesticated nature. The earliest still life paintings in fifteenth-century Europe pursued this task, lavishing an obsessive attention to detail onto wood panel surfaces through the then-recently discovered medium of oil paint, with its unmatched crystalline intensity. Floral still life allowed some of the first professional female artists to emerge, given that their endeavor could be completed within the cloistered space of the home. Even more advantageous for societal restrictions of the day, such labor of detail required a monumental immobility from its renderer, an interesting counterpoint to the language of organic growth this kind of painting depicted.

Yet, Render Garden is not at all a still life, nor does it seek to lull us into the illusion of verisimilitude, or the condition of being lifelike. The veneer of poetic lyricism we associate with the cultivated quickly gives way as we struggle to perceive the complex operations of the work’s iconography and installation. We bend over and peer down at the screens rooted to the ground. Stems, Branches and boughs “pop” and flicker at a bewildering velocity, twisting and disappearing from view before they can be scrutinized. What might on first glance appear to be a polite bouquet— an “arrangement” or “composition” following Matisse’s example perhaps— soon evolves into a storm of hyperactive autonomous life forms that seemingly seek to extend their limbs into our space.

Depth is suggested through 3-D animation graphics. The older painterly languages of light, shadow, foreshortening and recession also touch the surface of the rendered leaves with highlights and contour. Nevertheless, our bipedal point of view is thoroughly confounded and thrust into a vertiginous cycle. Following the guiding arrows of the 3-D mechanism, the grounded nature of perspectival systems spin out of control and enter a non-Euclidian and anti-gravitational realm. We fall into the screen’s black infinity, leaving the garden behind, banished from its promise of bounty and harmony.

Stepping back, the screen “plots” reappear and we enter again into the socialized space of the gallery where we can wander freely. These “clippings” were propagated from a marketplace asset store, their “cropping” and placement completing this recontextualization, whereby they generate seeds and offshoots for the taking. Their development depends on “random” feeds, “generative” designs, and a culture of video games and server “farms.”

Such a collage process suggests that there is a fundamental “generosity” constituting our separate but linked community spheres of garden, web, and gallery— with enough scope and diversity to accommodate harvesting and collecting, and sufficient room for limitless growth. At the same time, the trance-like looping of Render Garden prompts us to consider how we will maintain and contain this unprecedented expansion, virtual and physical, and to what extent we are actually fed and sustained by the dizzying, flashing pace of our cultural production.

--Abigail Susik, 2014
Assistant Professor of Art History, Willamette University


Rick Silva’s art has shown in exhibitions and festivals worldwide, including Transmediale (Germany), Futuresonic (U.K.), and Sonar (Spain). His projects have been supported through grants and commissions from places such as Rhizome and The Whitney Museum of American Art. He has performed his live multimedia works in London at E:VENT Gallery, Tokyo at The Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts, and throughout North America including the Software Cinema Festival in Houston Texas. Silva’s art has been written about internationally including The New York Times, The Guardian, and El Pais. He frequently works with the experimental gallery space TRANSFER Gallery (NYC). Rick lives in Eugene Oregon, where he also teaches at the University of Oregon.