@ the Riverside Art Museum

March 27 – August 14, 2010

The Riverside Art Museum owns a collection of paintings by Andrew Molles, dating from the early 1970s, and is displaying them here for a new look at a style that is being re-examined after several decades.

Andrew Molles painted geometric abstraction oriented towards a hard edge painting approach and employing the repetition and simplification of minimalist art. While most of Molles’ paintings take up his entire canvas, there tend to be only a few basic elements within each piece, occasionally repeated multiple times. Often that element is a particular shape or symbol; other times it may be a cube stacked atop many other cubes.

As its name implies, geometric abstraction almost exclusively uses geometric forms in either its creation or its final imagery, although, as with other types of abstract art, this “rule” is not hard and fast. Unlike abstract expressionism, whose practitioners supposedly work on a subconscious level, geometric abstraction occurs through the rational use of shapes such as squares and cubes, circles and spheres to form what can seem like a precisely-generated, almost robotic formation of objects.

Beginning in the late 1950s a large number of Southern California artists employed a hard edge style of painting. It typically features simplified color schemes and precisely defined edges to accentuate chosen shapes.

Molles’ work exemplifies this style with its use of subtly shifting colors to make it seem as if part of the painting is in motion. In that sense, his work is clearly influenced by minimalist thought and style, specifically in the stripping away of unnecessary components to leave just the most important elements of the painting.