Let There Be Light Presents:
Opens: January 7th • 6pm
Closes: January 28th • 5pm
General Admission: $1 entry donation
Call the box office for more info
From Rauschenberg assistant to collaborator has been an easy transition for Darryl Pottorf. The two were in Venice, during the 1994 Biennale, where a Rauschenberg painting (at the request of young Soviet artists inspired by ROCI) hung in the USSR pavilion. At a Venetian evening celebrating Art for the World, its sponsor, Adelina von Furstenberg, suggested a Rauschenberg-Pottorf collaboration. By coincidence, two pianists began playing on the villa’s grand piano. “Quattro mani, ” someone announced.
“Quattro mani, four hands,” Pottorf translated. He turned to Rauschenberg. “That’s us!” And the idea was born: to make art as partners, looking at the same scenes, Bob photographing in color, Darryl in black and white, then combining the two in one painting. Returning to Captiva, they began their collaboration. The work is complex and three-dimensional in effect, with Pottorf’s stark black prints on Lexan superimposed over Rauschenberg’s light hearted, colorful collages, which he transferred to handmade papers with water-soluble inks. They created four large paintings for the Cloister of San Lazzaro, an Armenian monastery in Venice, works exhibited at the next Biennale, such as Quattro Mani I (1996) that captured the historical and contemporary spirit of the city. These four-handed paintings won the highest award given by the Venetian mayor’s office. Sidney Felsen of Gemini G.E.L., the famed studio of master printers in Los Angeles, came to the Biennale, and saw the Quattro Mani works at San Lazzaro. Fascinated by their depth and complexity, he invited the artists to create a Quattro Mani edition in his city, featuring Los Angeles from two merged perspectives.
With two retired LA.P.D. policemen as escorts, Rauschenberg and Pottorf combed the city with their cameras; from Beverly Hills to Watts to East LA. and beyond, photographing animals and skyline, storefronts and back yards, in and out of neighborhoods, with Rauschenberg’s genius for color, composition and irony driving the project. “Every day of the project was an effortless front of discovery, “wrote Pottorf.’ At Gemini, with hundreds of pictures spread out on a vast roomful of tables, a visiting native Angelina remarked, “This is my Los Angeles, a city no one has portrayed!”
Indeed, the photographs capture the unique lights and sights of the city of stars, in which the city itself is a star. And Pottorf’s silhouetted black palm trees connect the disparate images. Quattro Mani IV (1998), for example, washed in blue and orange, bounces white areas, from the downtown L.A. skyline to a serene swan, swimming in a hotel’s lake (looking down at Pottorf’s image of the Marlboro Man, a huge sign on Sunset Boulevard), to a shimmering French chandelier, to the white swath of paint obscuring a garbage truck, whose tires seem to roll backwards toward an oil derrick. The images of signs – “Closed: Use Other Side,” “Open Trench,” “Movie Star Maps” -form a gently amusing kaleidoscope of a cityscape. The LA. Quattro Mani, dream-like expanses in their muted colors, was well received by the city of Los Angeles. “In their beautiful and contemplative new works,” wrote Joel Wachs, president pro tem, Los Angeles City Council, “Robert Rauschenberg and Darryl Pottorf have taken an important step toward opening our eyes and understanding the city around us. For that we should all be grateful.”2
The body of work from four hands has continued, recording a sense of place in city after city. In 1999, after combing Italy and Turkey for imagery, the two artists found a treasure of exotica and ‘ordinaria’ in Marrakech. Quattro Mani Marrakech followed, a palette of burnt orange and vivid blue that reflects the lush colors of that city. (Prior to Quattro Mani each had created an individual series: Pottorf’s The Moroccan Series and Rauschenberg’s playfully titled Marrakitsch.) The four-handed, two-camera exploration of this oriental city for Gemini G.E.L. is full of rugs, roses, towers and tiles and tapestries, fruit stands and bicycles. Quattro Mani Marrakech IIl (2000), with a floral-tiled column and blue Oriental rug, a shopkeeper’s array of clothing and bags of spices, is centered by an ominous red forbidden-entry sign, and brought to earth by a tangle of chicken wire. The layers and layers of imagery are built onto the picture by two artists who automatically and instinctively see in-depth -and in an extra dimension.
Mary Lynn Kotz, Author, Rauschenberg: Art and Life (Harry N. Abrams)
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