In Bridges, Jay Ragma’s latest solo exhibition, the artist continues his exploration into intricate structures brimming with energy.
In the densely packed grids for which Ragma is best known for horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines—of varying hues and weights—collide and intertwine to form tapestries that crackle and pulsate, while maintaining a delicate and tense balance between the luminous and the stygian, the effervescent and the condensed, and the rigid and the erratic. Conjuring impressions of both cold, rigorous analysis and radiant, expressive spontaneity, Ragma’s works thrive on upending and undermining the order that rhythm and symmetry impose.
Motion is indeed a central concern of the artist, who counts the velocity-obsessed Italian Futurists as a key influence. Not only does he convey this through lines that zip and zoom across the canvas, producing networks from which apparition-like three-dimensional forms and planes of color fleetingly converge and dissipate. In general, Ragma finds motion to be symbolic and constitutive of life hence, in representing movement, he aims to let his viewers “see the beauty of life” and “to feel alive, blissful, inspired, and see that life is worth living.”
While his labyrinthine webs might suggest entanglement, the artist views his compositions more as emblems of connection, both in spatial and causal terms. In working primarily based on feel and intuition, Ragma seeks to foreground the serendipity that arises from such an instinctive process of artmaking, that despite how something might seem chaotic and incomprehensible, everything happens for a reason.
Moreover, this concept—which emerged during a turbulent period for Ragma and his family—is what sets Bridges apart from the artist’s previous solo exhibitions. As the show alludes to and was spurred by his brother having recently checked into a rehabilitation facility, the works on display are the artist’s reflections on fate as well as his method of dealing with the unexpected, with the specific aim of expressing and engendering feelings of hope amidst tumultuous times.
– Dominic Zinampan