Daniel Aksten


Alea Iacta Est (the die are cast)*
Wall sculpture, very shallow relief, or painting, Daniel Aksten’s work distinguishes itself in all three genres. Exceptionally clean deliberate edges compliment an almost casual randomness in design. The roll of a die literally determines the application of color in layered grids committed to steel panels.
Built up of automotive paint scientifically formulated to dazzle under the California Sun, the surface denies the expression of the artist’s hand, not uncommon with California Light and Space work and the aesthetic of the Finish-Fetish “Cool School.” Conscious decisions have been made with regard to scale, texture, and paint color (or lack of it), while composition, shape and image are given to chance.
Contrast is the subject, not only of luminous color abutting a neutral ground, but also light vs. solid, intention vs. happenstance: contrast getting along with harmony. Forms emerge from this complexity. Optical radiance occludes geometric certainty.
A ubiquitous and familiar motif in Aksten’s work occupies the last layer of each panel: the round-cornered “screen” like a painted ghost frame reminds the viewer that eyesight has a limited range. One’s eyes are tempted to focus with tunnel vision, accustomed to seeing by proxy through technologic enhancements of camera viewfinders or binoculars. Perceptual awareness always excludes the complexity of the peripheral in an effort to grasp at a single subject before the ground. Aksten’s work regards this search obsolete, collaborating instead with the viewer as images co-arise from an ambient and dense atmosphere.
Bill Wheelock

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