Search View Archive

Colonization of Space

James Siena, Rulebreaker, 2016. Ink on paper and museum board. 17 1/4 x 14 5/8 x 1 1/8 inches. Photograph by Kerry Ryan McFate. © James Siena, courtesy Pace Gallery.
On View
Pace Gallery
James Siena: Drawing
January 12 – February 11, 2017
New York


Self-contained “microcosm,” illuminated on paper in
Pre-Eyckian splendor. Simultaneously mitigated by
Anomalous septa, debonair syncopation,
Place and space seem to migrate fluidly to unexpected orbits.

In every instance, field and vehicle in image/sign are liberated to
Espouse and adapt to ever-more stimulating environments.
Like a spider building its orb web in early morning dew,
Using its body for measurements, moisture and air
Are caught in between the spiral thread.

Walking, knotting, mapping, breathing with relaxed fingers
As if the intimate marginalia thrived on fluctuating between
Accretion and collapse.
Nihilism, automatism, manifolds dissimilar at will.
Precise and often homophonic rather than polyphonic,
He prefers to refer to the Book of Hours rather than
Setting the tiles of the Taj Mahal, which he did so long ago.

I also see an inventive engineering that gave birth to this
Architectural stomping ground. Ribbed, corrugated and
Lamella vaults, parabolic arches, fluted shells,
Plus possibly fan-shaped buttresses that expand into massive forms
Yet they’re always at the verge of becoming diminutive tapestries.
They’re at the disposal of his particular devotional, visionary
And loving attentiveness to the atoms of Democritus.
Whoever gazes at this fearful symmetry,
Hasn’t found his way out of the spider’s hub.


James Siena, Large Red and Black Manifold, 2016. Ink on paper. 17 7/8 x 23 7/8 inches. © James Siena, courtesy the artist and Pace Gallery.



Phong Bui

Phong H. Bui is the Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2017

All Issues