In a solid month for group shows, White Light at Motel is among the best. Culling work from 10 artists from Japan, Canada, and the United States, White Light continues Motel's departure from a steady diet of twee drawing with a group of satisfying studies in abstraction and electric coloration. Primarily consisting of geometric shapes and deeply worked surfaces, there's a labor-intensive depth to this material. Moreover, the similarity in their fluorescent palettes and formal elements creates a visual dialogue between the works. So the hypnotic Op-Art grids in Philadelphia-based artist Andrew Jeffrey Wright's X-Wave Series seem to echo the embroidered patterns of diamonds and dotted lines by Winnipeg's Takashi Iwasaki, which hang on the opposite wall. Although there is an undeniable collective resonance among the show's pieces, White Light is not without its individual highlights.
North Carolina native Amanda Barr presents quasi-psychedelic depictions of the natural world. In "The Powers," two spindly stemmed mushrooms sprout from an oblong form that resembles both a branch and forearm protruding from the wall. Alongside her papier-mâché sculptures of a rock and a crystal, these forms are pitch-black, as if scorched or lifeless, but also adorned with fanning pastel patterns. "Crystal Flower," a bright, spray-painted flower made up of a series of lines and diamonds, appears more alive, if equally unreal. It conjures the pixilated fauna from some 8-bit videogame.
The show's most figurative work is also its best. New Yorker Erica Somogyi presents three surreal works in watercolor and gouache. Her images seem to capture a dream world of perpetual twilight and fuzzy-edged perception. In "Driftwood Forest," tree branches crisscross against a rosy sky, hovering over a foreground that bubbles in watery blue ink. The meticulous detail and realism of the man and woman who lounge under a makeshift tent in "Float Aimless Moonshine" provide an even more pronounced foil to the bleeding watercolor wash. The couple seem to be adrift, their tent as weightless as a lily pad, on the surface of some body of water—or perhaps they inhabit another plane altogether.
While only Somogyi's images are transporting in a narrative sense, it's just as easy to get lost in Ai Tsuchikawa and Ryohei Kobayashi's intricately constructed collage pieces or Robin Dash's stippled cosmos, where scraps of product packaging unexpectedly emerge. In all, the work in White Light is pleasingly disorienting and vibrantly imagined, bound together by a playful, reality-tweaking aesthetic.