Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

‘Refractions’ by @ Luis De Jesus Los Angeles

February 27, 2019

Chris Engman’s works in Refraction at Luis De Jesus Los Angeles surpass the human imagination’s ability to conceive of the meticulous. Indeed, together with the site-specific Containment which creates an ethereal effervescent stimulus – quite extraordinary for a fine art to accomplish – we have a rigorous task of ridding the devil from the details and replacing him with angels.


Mr. Engman chooses to weave human architecture into the fabrics of natural landscape, and is overall successful at this medley, creating uncanny portraitures of human habitats. There is a curious serenity which is inhaled when peering into, say, Landscape for Quentin, as a Serengeti-esque desert and its lifelessness is transposed with a quotidian suburban bedroom hallway. Our eyesight marvels at the intensely methodical immersion without any instance of daze; rather, it is astonishing eye candy at that. Perhaps we stare in self-admiration at the ability for humanity to so seamlessly meld itself into natural sight? And it is quite the feat by Mr. Engman to create such a silent hymn of harmonybetween the humanly architected and the naturally birthed. It cannot be ignored how potentially jarring the effort could have been in the hands of a less rigorous artist.


Cinderblocks demonstrates further this talent of Mr. Engman in showcasing a healthy obsession with details. As with all great art, the majesty of the realism Mr. Engman evokes from digital print cannot be reproduced by mere blue screen; it is needed to be felt and seen in person. Such a simple experiment of mirroring profane construction materials is immediately lifted into the sacred through his expert craftmanship of again making their representation uncanny and ultimately artistic. The scintillation comes from such an intense immediacy, I am wishful to believe this is true pioneering in digital imagery.


And with regards to pioneering, Containment is clearly a pleasurably challenge from a masterful artist now seeking to take his thesis towards the heights. The physical construction of his artwork, as a keen counterbalance to his photographic works which have architecture housed within nature, now have nature housed within the man-made. Mentioning before the sense of serenity, here too do we have a meditation on the immediate present? How does this glimpse into nature reveal a glimpse into an infinitely transcendent order beyond the grasp of any human mind? Clearly through the unity of the observer with the work, dissolving all peripheries as ephemera and giving the subject only the Neoplatonic One to perceive. And Mr. Engman could have his fancy at what this thought ought to be. Yet by choosing nature and its myriad of inordinate complexity, Mr. Engman is returning us to a primary form, enabling us paradoxically to resonant with a higher natural order in the world via its synthetic reproduction.  This, simply said, is a beautiful achievement.


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