Review: Chase Roselli’s “Descending”

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Work from Descending by Chase Roselli, on view in San Francisco through July 2017.

Chase Roselli is primarily known for his photography and film, most notably his work on a Superbowl commercial for Airbnb. A true Renaissance man however, he translates the movement and passage of time of film into his paintings, now on view at The Mill in San Francisco. In Roselli’s second exhibition for Four Barrel Coffee, the artist’s work plays on the duality of turbulence and calm of the busy venue. The large scale paintings fill the space with undulating line, while the smaller paintings and mixed media pieces explore the juxtaposition of line and form.

While at first glance the collection is reminiscent of Joy Division’s ubiquitous Unknown Pleasures cover art plastered on t-shirts, dorm room walls, and cell phone cases, Descending reveals a marriage of line and form evocative of much more than a famous album cover.

On the surface, the forms on the large canvases seem topographical, scenic, but abstracted and surreal. The negative space hints at the legacies of Helen Frankenthaler and Sam Francis. The negative space, however, begins to inform the viewer that the undulations may be less topographical and more a mapping of the ephemeral–invoking the waves of the Pacific or the descending of San Francisco fog. Decisive lines trace the wavering patterns of line descending into the negative space, rhythm and movement dancing on the canvas and interacting with the large, imposing, colored shapes in the center of the pieces.

The smaller works, though diminutive compared to the previously mentioned pieces, hold their own in the bustling venue. They are much darker over all, and the lines thicker, creating defined shapes that anchor the waves in a way just as compelling (if not more so) as the large colorful shapes on the opposite wall. The smaller works almost seem to vibrate with tension against the sea of patrons calming drinking their lattes.

The linework of Descending feels much more planned and decisive than those in Roselli’s previous Four Barrel exhibition One More Line (May/June 2015). The artist focuses more on natural rhythm rather than the neatly stacked “automatic drawing” -like patterns of his earlier work. The quality of line, too, is much more elegant and easy.

Descending is West Coast “surfer art” evolved into a rhythmic lullaby of line and form, rocking the viewer deeper and deeper into its pulsating topography.

Descending is on view at through July 2017 at The Mill, 736 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA.

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Megan Udell

Megan Udell lives in San Francisco, spending the majority of her time writing, sharing her love of art with anyone who will listen, and drinking entirely too much coffee.