For shattering scientific discovery, empiricism must be based on the hunch.
Intuition arising from somewhere in the human being to become hypothesis
and, ultimately, disrupting proof. Changing thought into evidence in a new realm and transforming humankind.
Wally Gilbert, who in the capacity of Nobel Laureate scientist, along with Fred Sanger, accomplished just that, by finding ways to decipher chemical groups in DNA, making it possible for the first time to read genes. It was a seminal event in our understanding of the Genome, profoundly influencing our knowledge of all
organisms and therefore the foundations of life as we know it.
Gilbert’s long time as a scientist, testing ideas, helped to realize his more recent vocation as a photographic artist, a hat he has worn for almost 20 years. He experiments with color and form through use of a small digital camera and the computer to create glorious, huge aluminum prints of layered, abstracted images of the world he sees. His interpretations are results of deformations of reality in saturated colors, dynamic geometrics and gorgeous renderings of nature all displayed with panache in “Worlds,” shown here at Viridian Artists – serving to delight our senses and transforming our feelings into grand appreciations of what it means to be alive. We are almost breathless when seeing these beautiful pieces.
His deep reverence for the human is expressed in some of the quasi-metaphysical titles he has chosen for his works. Indeed, the name of the show, with words such as “Crossing,” “Edges,” “Veils,” and “Mystic Blue Flower,” among others gracing the pieces, symbolize Gilbert’s searches for depth beyond the picture plane and for mystery—desires of both an artist and scientist toward
culmination of the elemental quest for raison d’être. Here, the computer picture
plane is a digital representation of our world’s three dimensions just as the
double helix is the shorthand symbol for the building blocks of human biology.
This artist’s infusion of magnificent colors in our post-minimalist world brings new life to the computer’s data analytics and Gilbert does not just rely on this machine’s remarkable capabilities, he adds the element of human love to it while superimposing, by trial and error, photographic imaginings that speak through an ability to create new patterns and forms from the technology.
His art is part of his journey of intelligence where his pictures, over time, have transformed from the representational, such as in the photographs he lovingly took of the Boston Ballet in the past, to now become non-concrete entities;
and eventually, through years of experimentation, have morphed into unique visual abstracts. At first, Gilbert’s pictures were oriented to the human body. Then, as he moved toward concept, eventually his pieces just slightly referenced biology until they became nonrepresentational through superimposition of several photographic images fully employed here. Just as Duchamp warped the female figure in “Nude Descending a Staircase,” Gilbert re-forms our images of certainty leaving us with just trace relationships to the realistic in these dynamic manifestations.
The pieces, in this exhibit, demonstrate Gilbert’s broad range of visual curiosity in that the subjects are varied, all working together in the show through the bold use of color and geometrics. He yearns to describe the cosmological and each work here is an attempt to do so. His print, “Fanlights-Blue,” in such sparkling chromatic combinations reminds me of the Chrysler building as if it were reinvented psychedelically. The pictures, “Floating-Red,” and “Joy,” take carnelian hues to the richest ethereal level, the triangles rising upward and moving forth to an infinite place in the mind’s eye from two-dimensional confines. His pictures, “Veils” and “Crossings,” in various iterations surpass geometric boundaries, as in contrast they introduce us to “Flowers – Red and Blue,” with his wonderful provisions of deeply felt blooms that burst forth as riotous chroma.
As a seeker, Dr. Gilbert applies his consummate knowledge of science to a world of sense elevating what can be quantified through technology to the domain of higher universal forces we can only experience metaphorically. The computer, enlisted in the quest for attainment of the sublime, is Wally Gilbert’s laboratory where he creates beauty through experiments naming imagery as exquisiteness in color and opening us up pictorially. He builds on the theoretical to imbue our empirical world with the intangible grandeur of the mysteries of the human heart. In Wally Gilbert’s universe, our limited understanding of existence is
transported to the unquantifiable absolutes of beauty and truth and we view his work with humble gratitude.