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"Tom Marioni: The Golden Rectangle"
2004-01-17 until 2004-04-04
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco, CA, USA

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts presents The Golden Rectangle a solo exhibition of new and earlier work by Tom Marioni, one of the Bay Area’s most treasured conceptual artists, highlighting his intersection of conceptual, sculptural and performance art with Zen Buddhist thinking. On view from January 17–April 4, 2004, the exhibition will include a brand new installation commissioned by YBCA entitled The Temple of Geometry, in addition to a selection of Marioni’s drawings. This exhibition coincides with Awake: Art, Buddhism and the Dimensions of Consciousness, a multiphase West Coast initiative that explores the relation between artistic practice and Buddhist thinking.

Since the 1960s, Marioni has created a distinctive body of work through challenging definitions of artistic genres. He has explored performance art as sculptural actions, incorporating nontraditional elements such as time, sound, light, air and social situations. His 1969 work, One Second Sculpture, for example, created a real-time drawing in space as a structure of time, sound and action. As the founder and director of the Museum of Conceptual Art, which served as a center for conceptual artwork in San Francisco from 1970 to 1984, Marioni established a space where artists were able to create visual art through situations, installations and performances.

“Tom has established an accomplished career of work that has played a key role in the Conceptual Art movement both at the local and national level,” says Rene de Guzman, YBCA Visual Arts Curator. “The Center has the extreme good fortune of having the opportunity to focus the public's attention on Marioni's recent work and also to commission a major new art installation specifically designed for Yerba Buena's Galleries. This exhibition is a rare chance to see a wide range of works by an artist who is arguably one of the most esteemed practitioners living in the Bay Area today.”

After viewing a series of Marioni’s Buddhist-inspired drawings in the YBCA anteroom, viewers will follow a path that leads to The Temple of Geometry. Conceived as a temple-like space in the Center’s Gallery, this new sheet-rock structure is based on the concept of the golden mean (originated by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians, the golden mean decrees a harmonious relationship between parts and represents the intersection of empirical observation and sensory experience, science and metaphysics). The structure will function as the Gallery’s gateway. The height of the entryway will require viewers to bow to enter the space, in the spirit of entering a Japanese teahouse before a tea ceremony.

Marioni’s symbolic “teahouse” will contain some works created before the exhibition and some made during it, and will include elements of social interaction taking cue from his celebrated and internationally acclaimed work entitled, The Act of Drinking Beer with Friends, which began in 1970, and continues to this day. Involving friends gathering at his studio for drinks and conversation, this work is one of the ways in which Marioni pioneered using social situations as conceptual art. Marioni will be present at the YBCA Gallery taking part in this work periodically. In addition, Marioni, who has been incorporating sound in his performance and gallery settings since his first sound-art show in 1970, plans to have a Buddhist band perform during the exhibition.

Marioni’s interest in Asian art and thought, specifically Zen Buddhism, is reflected in the concepts behind his art. He calls attention to the creative process over the finished product, to the ephemeral over the permanent. Like Zen Buddhism, Marioni’s work emphasizes the importance of recognizing the extraordinary in what may otherwise seem ordinary, through attention, awareness and consciousness. His drawings reflect the elegance and simplicity of Zen Buddhism, and serve as a reminder of the artistic process.

Awake: Art, Buddhism and the Dimensions of Consciousness is a West Coast celebration of Buddhism and the arts organized by independent curators Mary Jane Jacob and Jacquelynn Baas. As part of the festival, a consortium of arts organizations will sponsor programs, meetings and artists residencies to reveal the threads of Buddhist intellectual, psychological and aesthetic influence that run through the fabric of American culture. Other participating organizations include the Headlands Center for the Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, California College of Arts & Crafts, Cal Performances, UC Berkeley Art Museum, UCLA Hammer Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Born in Cincinnati in 1937, Marioni now lives in San Francisco. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally since 1963. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Memorial Award for Conceptual Art.

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