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Giles Bettison
at Bullseye Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer


Giles Bettison, 'Vista 09,' 2009, fused, blown and coldworked murrine glass.

Australian sculptor Giles Bettison turns tiny cubes of bundled glass canes into dazzlingly intricate vessels, wall pieces, and hanging sculptures. Using the meticulous Venetian technique known as murrine, he fuses hundreds of component parts into grids of woozily irregular rhomboids that warp, bend, and droop like so many surrealist clocks. In "Solace," a mini-retrospective of the artist’s output since 2001, Bettison demonstrates a breadth of compositional and chromatic engagement that continues to evolve. Earlier series such as "Vista NY" and "Salt Lake" were based on travels within the United States, but drew upon the color palette of the artist’s native continent. Pieces from 2008 and 2009 continue the artist’s long-standing fascination with textile. Whereas earlier work drew inspiration from kente cloth and the textile art of Anni Albers, the current "Lace" series embeds doily-like patterns in traditional platter and vessel forms. The works seem to propound and perhaps eulogize the increasingly vanishing qualities that lace represents: a brand of antiquarian delicacy and decoration tied to pre-feminist notions of femininity and domestic life. Some pieces in the series reference architecture via tiny pillars and arches built into the murrine cubes. This development leads the work into a greater literality that does not play to the artist’s gifts for abstraction, pattern, and distortion. Bettison is at his strongest not when he quotes, but when he paraphrases.

Bullseye Projects

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