Aug 14–Nov 7, 2021
History and its Shadow by Mark di Suvero. A white canvas with sprays of neon paint in primary colors.


Every few years, the waves of our beloved coastline glow bright blue – a phenomenon caused by single-celled organisms, bioluminescent dinoflagellate, who release a flash of light in response to perceived threats. This light’s purpose is twofold: to beckon other creatures who might deter the predator, and to startle the perceived threat and scare it away. For the human viewer, the luminescence appears to be both within and on the surface of the water, an experience both otherworldly and deeply familiar.

This same glowing and familiar light is present throughout History and Its Shadow, an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by celebrated artist Mark di Suvero. While maintaining an active sculptural practice, in the past five years di Suvero has begun making paintings textured with phosphorescent and fluorescent paint. These paintings are both visible in the light of day and glow in darkness, retaining light for up to fifteen minutes when activated with black light. This series of paintings are brilliantly abstract and particularly powerful when exhibited in relationship with the other examples of di Suvero’s extensive practice.

In addition to paintings, History and Its Shadow also includes three sculptures. The Triplets are consistent in their form and design — utilizing three intersecting plates. Two hanging works are made using foam core board, a material commonly used in photography mounting and architecture classes. Di Suvero paints the sculptures with the same phosphorescent paint he uses in his paintings, giving the works multiple perspectives for the viewer. Like many of di Suvero’s large sculptures, these kinetic works gently and subtly sway with the wind as bodies move throughout the space. The materials di Suvero utilizes speak to the accessibility of the creativity available to us all. Historically making large-scale sculptures with materials complex and costly to find and transport, di Suvero now intentionally makes work daily with the materials that are at hand, ones that are easy and affordable for anyone to source. The model for the Triplets is also included in the show, made out of titanium — a material both very strong and very light, and resistant to corrosion.

Outside on the Mission Plaza lawn, the Museum presents Mamma Mobius, a transcendent sculpture that pays homage to the mobius strip, a ring of infinity. Mamma Mobius is brought to you by the City of SLO’s Art in Public Places program. The works included in this exhibition ground the viewers in between the past and the future; our consistent evolution, in between history and its shadow.

About Mark di Suvero:
Born to Italian parents, Mark di Suvero (b. 1933, Shanghai) immigrated to the U.S. as a child. An internationally renowned artist and pioneer in the use of steel, di Suvero has created vibrant and dynamic works of sculpture and painting throughout his sixty-year career, fusing vitality and movement with complex construction. He is without peer in the exhibition of public sculpture and has presented city-wide exhibitions throughout Europe and the United States and is the is the first living artist to exhibit in Le Jardin de Tuileries and Les Esplanades des Invalides in Paris. His work is in over 100 museums and public collections. Mark di Suvero is a lifelong activist for peace and social justice and has demonstrated a generous commitment to helping artists. He was a 2010 recipient of the National Medal of the Arts.

Want to learn more about the artist? Visit the links below!

The New York Times
Logo for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. White text on red background
ARTFORUM logo black text on white background
Logo, The Brooklyn Rail, Red text on white background
Photo credits: Heraldo Creative Studio. Artwork: Mark di Suvero, History and Its Shadow (detail).

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