The doorway-sized canvases, which look out into the boundless western colored landscapes, create the illusion that we are experiencing the painting form of the John Ford movie, The Searchers, where the truth sits attainable just outside the doorway. Stephen Aldahl must be familiar with this movie reference as he studies the door’s power and weight over the body in his show, “Club Mood Swing”. The doorways are presented as a meditation in potential – a heightened pause in deciding what is best, what is safe, and what challenges lie in and out. Aldahl crops and blocks out space in order to define passageways we can only peer out of. The paintings allow us to act as cowboys, considering the unforeseeable future that lies past the vast pictorial foliage and endless frontier.
“Club Mood Swing”, on view at Young Art Gallery, grounds itself along the gallery walls with its repeating paint block at the bottom of each piece. This solid space, which maybe is bedrock or simply the blanket unknown of what lies underground, goes undeveloped in comparison to the lushness of the landscapes above. Aldahl’s paintings start to feel like a map of worthy spots to travel with your eyes and areas that are simply unattainable.
“Well Twins” has the pallet of a nightscape. Its cooler colors move around the canvas providing depth and perspective that make the paintings feel all the more travelable. Architectural moments show up in the work, giving the doorway viewpoint resting points as we move around from our gallery distance. Aldahl gives us information while leaving space undefined, allowing the viewer to play explorer.
“Gates of Hell” is a painting split down the middle. These double doors or canvas gates give the viewer a wider scope to peer into. The fiery mountains show crevices, peaks, and slopes as we are given just enough information to discern that there is another world past the canvas gates, past the mountains, but just what is uncertain.
The installation created by Aldahl uses the floor, windows, and wooden pillars, concealing them with white masonite panels taped at the seams. The desired effect heightens the sensory environment while looking out into the paintings. As with the blocks of color at the bottom of each work, detailing on the floor grounds our bodies, reminding us of all that goes undescribed, as we look out of the doorway which looks out into another doorway, and so on.
“Club Mood Swing” is on view June 15th – July 13th at Young Art Gallery located in Chinatown at 418 Bamboo Lane Unit B, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday 12-6pm or by appointment. For more information visit here.
-Contributed by Hailey Loman