photo credit: Alexis Rhone Fancher
Lisa Segal, a Los Angeles artist, is an eccentric minimalist whose recent works are concerned with the geometrics of primary shapes, but within elaborate systems of her own construct.
That one gets lost in the unclear beginnings and ends of Segal’s systems is part of the charm of her work. Her squares, planes, and cubes exist in the realm of multiples, in that territory where similar objects are different and different objects are similar. Working with paper-based elements, she sets paper’s fragility, strength, and response to moisture — overplayed with the painted disruptions of her surfaces — against the rigidity and predictiveness of grids. Together, these layers emphasize the sensual nature of paper.
Segal’s current work emerges from grids and references architecture and cities. Her first experiences of urban spatial divisions were the street grids of the Phoenix, Arizona of her youth — a generally flat terrain with mostly one-story buildings. Los Angeles, where she’s lived for thirty plus years, is also a, mostly, gridded city with an historically low-rise profile, but one bending to the demands of development by adding clusters of high rises throughout the city to those, such as along the Wilshire Corridor near Century City or at the western edge of downtown along the Harbor Freeway, that were once anomalies. As one drives by these high rise clusters on roads that curve to accommodate the city’s topography, the windows of these buildings create shifting geometrics. Segal’s pieces, built from hand-made paper cubes, recreate the experience of traveling these routes. Her work interprets how these continually changing visual geometrics abut each other in space. Cubes and grids are presented as order and simplicity. She introduces chance and chaos by drawing her grids over painted surfaces or paper with common logic systems. Sometimes she draws and paints over ledger sheets salvaged from used accounting books or on digital prints of typographical elements created from phrases of her poetry. This allows complex geometric patterns to form at the edges of her hand cut and built cubes. She also employs this surface patterning to get unpredictable results within the collage pieces she assembles from those typographical elements and photographs of her paper cubes. Her cube series contrasts the sensibility of her patterns and systems with the color and improvisation of her surfaces. Segal’s grid lines and cube patterns, her process, remain visible in her finished pieces. Her work explores similarity versus variety, a generic cube versus a unique cube, shape versus pattern, and the progressive relationship of squares to grids to cubes.