'Pyrographs' now open at Stay Gallery

DOWNEY - Zachary Aronson has invented a unique artistic technique for creating images on broad planks of redwood, poplar, and pine.

Using an ordinary pocket torch, he burns lines and areas to delineate oversize portraits of friends and acquaintances. By varying the angle of the flame, its distance from the wood, and the length of the burn, he can create delicate to densely dark images.

The images are flat, like painting, yet burned into the wood in a way that resembles low-relief sculptures. Aronson's own term is most apt: "pyrographs," meaning "fire-writing." Instead of a cold chisel working stone, Aronson uses fire on an organic substance. Ash, the by-product of destruction, becomes the material for creation.

The result is like seeing supergraphics of faces through a narrow slit. The 96 boards, mostly 6 to 8 feet tall but ranging from 2 to 10 feet, are tightly lined up along the gallery walls. They are carefully composed into a rhythmic procession, varied by the angle of the portrait (full on, three-quarters, profile), full face or only an enlarged segment, and the intensity and darkness of the burned lines.

There is a fascinating interplay between the grain of the planks and the burned-in lines. It's a brilliant show that shouldn't be missed.

With recent shows by Cristian Castro, Roy Anthony Shabla, and now Zachary Aronson, Stay Gallery is becoming an important gallery not just for Downey, but for Los Angeles.

The gallery is open Wednesday through Friday, 11 am. to 7 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The show closes March 2. For more info see stay-gallery.com and zaronson.com.

********** Published: Feb. 20, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 45