True Colors 

Randy Toy is both present and absent at Main Art.

"Mixelecon" is an invented word meant, Toy says, to evoke "the idea of change." It's an appropriate theme because his work is in transition. His colorful, exquisitely crafted works are created with printmaking technology — a process far more anonymous in character than painting — and the layered symbolic motifs that make up his imagery are explicitly Hindu or Buddhist. Toy organizes his images in a nondoctrinaire fashion as subjective as his dynamic color choices and melds them to the bold design and austere dynamics of Western minimalism.

The oldest piece here is "Cycles" (2001) — a square grid of 42 multicolored prints festooned with Eastern motifs and comic portraits of the artist, who smiles beatifically like a friendly bodhisattva. Its diffuse imagery, noncentral composition and breezy tone contrast markedly with more recent works.

These include a set of 14-inch-by-14-inch prints wherein symbolic motifs are compactly layered over concentric geometric shapes inside a mandalalike circle. Some of these motifs are Eastern, but others — a human brain floating in a field of intense blues, three eyeballs hovering over a circle of red flame — seem lifted from dreams.

Imagery is mostly jettisoned in "Element 5: Convergence" (2004), a large multipart geometric work whose formal rigor yields a slightly chilly result, warmed only by Toy's luscious colors — rich yellow-ocher hues that range from sunny mustard to butterscotch brown.

More inviting are two works that push the artist's style into three dimensions. In "Mixology 391" (2003), hundreds of tiny paper squares, each stained a different color, are stacked in a pile inside a plexiglas cube on a sculpture stand. Toy's aesthetic is reduced here to essential components: the elegantly deckled edge of his torn paper, the intense hues of his high-saturation color.

In "Mixology 68: Harbinger" (2004), two accordion-style "books" are hinged together so that their 68 "pages" — small prints in a variety of satiny colors — form diamond-shaped cells. Viewed from above, the piece resembles both a stained-glass window and a blooming flower — associations of wholeness and renewal that equally reference Eastern and Western brands of spirituality.

"Cycles" and the "Mixology" pieces are the two poles of "Mixelecon." In the former, playfully juxtaposed images explicitly link Toy to the Eastern ideas that absorb and motivate him. In the latter, these ideas are communicated in purely formal terms, and Toy recedes into the background. Either direction is potentially fruitful. S

"Mixelecon: Prints and Constructions" runs through Oct. 30 at Main Art Gallery, 1537 W. Main St.

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com


Latest in Arts and Culture

More by Steven LJones

Connect with Style Weekly

Most Popular Stories

Copyright © 2023 Style Weekly
Richmond's alternative for news, arts, culture and opinion
All rights reserved
Powered by Foundation