MY DEAR MALEVICH exhibition by Tom R. Chambers at Art Gallery, Fine Arts Department, Zhaoqing University, Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China, April 2-15, 2007.

Review by JD Jarvis, Art Critic/Artist and coauthor of Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital Artists (ISBN 1-59200-918-2) (USA):

"Can an exhibition of art be both physical and virtual, a historical yet avant-garde, forward-looking homage with one foot in the current 21st century digital art scene and the other in the rich 20th century history of Modernist art? The answer is, yes, if you are Tom R. Chambers and your base of operations is the Fine Arts Department of Zhaoqing University in the Guangdong Province of China.

For several years now, Mr. Chambers has treated his students at Zhaoqing University and their peers at selected universities ranging from Wake Forest University, the University of Louisville, the Art Institute of Boston, the State Art Museum of Novosibirsk, Russia, Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York (among others), as well as, anyone with access to the web to a cross cultural mix of student digital art and photography. Based on themes from 'Self/Soul', 'Into the Future' or the color 'Red' these projects are brimming with culture and art. Chambers has infused his students with his own sense of wonder, introspection and a desire to examine and communicate.

Which brings us to one of Tom Chambers' own most recent and personal exhibitions entitled "My Dear Malevich" on display from April 2 through 15 in the art gallery of Zhaoqing University. This is the physical/virtual part of this exhibit. Wherein we see on the web a presentation of what must be, in real-time and space, a very striking exhibit. Consisting of many, large-size, black and white prints of hard-edged geometric designs "My Dear Malevich" is also an homage to the Russian artist who carried earlier Cubist work entirely into the abstract and non-representational. Kasimir Malevich founded the Suprematist art movement around 1913 and opened the door to true non-objectivity in modern art.

This exhibition expands inward (so to speak) from research into the progenitors of Minimalism, an artform in which Mr. Chambers has been experimenting for several years with his series of 'Pixelscapes' exhibitions. Utilizing the most basic unit of any computer graphic; the single pixel, his 'Pixelscapes' serve as colorful pathways into the purely metaphysical aspects of art which, by virtue of presenting so little, leads the viewer to so much in terms of their own emotional content.

With "My Dear Malevich," Chambers describes for the viewer a process by which he travels (via magnification) into a digitized photograph of Malevich and discovers at the singular pixel level arrangements which echo back directly to Malevich's own totally abstract compositions. This process is such an apt metaphor for Malevich's own journey deep with himself, as well as, his discovery of the non-objective soul of art contained within the objective world as to constitute a form of visual poetry.

This visual poetry contains the ironic connection between Modernist philosophy which moved visual art from figurative representational pictures of the physical world into an expressive and emotional world of abstraction; and, the digital realm in which the purely abstract unit of one pixel off - one pixel on, has been utilized to reproduce once again, with breath taking accuracy the physical world. Now, Chambers' has shown a path by which this tool, which so often serves hyper-reality, is forced to reveal the abstract soul at its very core. Was Malevich thinking in "pixels" without knowledge of the term and even many decades before the fact of the technology, which utilizes this basic component? His association with Futurism might account for this sort of metaphysical connection. And, so it is that we have the aspect of this exhibition that straddles a whole century of art. From the earliest beginnings of Modern art to the latest developments in the tools by which the newest works are being made. The ground that is covered is immense, but the time between the two virtually disappears in this exhibit. It seems that with "My Dear Malevich" it is not a matter of what is old (or new) being new (or old) again; but that what is "old" and "new" exists simultaneously. That which is "gone" is also, at the very same time, ever-present."

Click on process to view Chambers' approach to the pixel(s) in the Malevich photo.

Click on TRC/MDM to view Tom R. Chambers with two of his Pixelscapes.

Right click on MDM to download the "My Dear Malevich" exhibition poster.

"My Dear Malevich" online.