Jordan Tull’s Reflexion fills Tractor gallery (328 NW Broadway) with two interlocking linear forms—one brushed aluminum, the other magenta enamel—that trace a common path then diverge to imply (without defining) an oversized polyhedron. But it’s the lines themselves, bouncing off the floor, paralleling, intersecting (depending on where you stand) that define the piece. Outside, on the gallery’s front window, video of revolving models of the each linear form are projected.
Remove this piece from its context in Tractor, and it becomes a crisp sculpture of scale, a Donald Judd take on Anthony Caro’s “Strip Stake” at the Portland Art Museum (find it outside on SW 10th). In Tractor it delightfully confounds the way it demands to be viewed. I wanted to back off 10 yards and slowly circle it, imagining the interplay of the lines and angles from different viewpoints. (Interestingly, a camera can do what a mere mortal viewer cannot: see these photos.) But as there was no place in the gallery from I couldn’t reach out and touch it, it frustrated perspective as it required the kind of intimacy we don’t usually experience with a hard-edged work of scale like this, reminding me of TJ Norris feeling a gravitational pull to enter the Museum’s Sol Lewitt "Incomplete Open Cube" during his Artist Talk (which he did, gleefully).
The precision execution of the piece is seductive. And its singular stand at the tail end of an era that has seen accumulations of objects as a primary art gambit makes it stand out. I need to say that I love its title with the play on reflex and reflection making me think about what sort of reflex we’re talking about. I do wonder, though, whether this was conceived as the sculptor’s first foray into installation or whether it is a large sculpture sited in a small gallery, making the interplay between piece and space incidental. And I wonder whether a piece like this is a regressive stance or a forward-moving synthesis. It will be interesting to see what Tull does next.
Regardless, both its ambition and the viewing conundrum it provides make it worth a visit.
Tractor gallery will be open August 26-28 from 5-9 PM for viewing before the show closes.