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Straight Lines Bend: Gabriel Dawe at the Dallas Contemporary

Plexus No. 4 by Gabriel Dawe

Plexus no. 4 by Gabriel Dawe

Plexus no. 4, Sculpture by Gabriel Dawe
Dallas Contemporary
Through-January 23, 2011.

UPDATE: Plexus no. 4 is extended through March 27, 2011.

The moment I entered the side gallery of Dallas Contemporary, I had an immediate and visceral response to Gabriel Dawe’s Plexus no. 4. My first reaction was one of child-like, wide-eyed awe: I love when straight lines bend! I love the juxtaposition of this colossal textile sculpture against the naked brick of the room.  I love that the direct lighting creates a feeling of being in a world with many suns, especially when viewed at night. Moving closer and then around the installation, I am completely absorbed.

The mathematical side of my personality kicks in as I walk through the piece and think of light waves and differential equations.  Were the two spectral curtains of thread perfectly planned?  Did the artist foresee the wonderful geometric designs and how each viewer would interact with the piece to create movement in the static work?  Was this piece first completely conceptualized in CAD and then an order placed for a huge spool of thread that would then perfectly produce the computerized image, when instructions were perfectly followed? I would have been very disappointed if the answers were yes.

Dawe spent over 100 hours constructing this site specific work with his own hands, from 2 dimensional sketches.  He wound approximately 50 miles of regular, store bought thread around nails hammered into planks of wood which themselves are affixed to the floor and overhead steel beams.  He really enjoys the repetitious work and I wonder if there is something meditative in it for him.

The installation is actually two separate pieces that are almost symmetrical, but not quite.  I have watched many viewers walk through and around; far back into a corner and then up close and very personal.  But, be careful.  It is easy to lose your perception of depth and come too close as your eyes fixate on a favorite pattern. I have witnessed quite a few viewers reach out and immediately stop themselves from touching the piece; as it invokes such a tactile response.

I am absolutely enthralled with Plexus no. 4. and sad that this is the final week.  Much like a Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala, Plexus no. 4 is temporary.  But while the mandala is ritualistically destroyed once it has been completed and the sand used in closing ceremonies; Dawe is planning to carefully dissemble Plexus no. 4 and reassemble it as part of another exhibition.  Of course, the subsequent installation will evolve into another unique sculpture constructed of the remains of Plexus no. 4.

Gabriel Dawe is a very talented mixed media artist who is a trained graphic designer, but thankfully does not use a 3-D computer modeling program to plan his intricate, large-scale sculptures of thread. These indoor installations are delicate and vibrant. Though the Plexus no. 4 is completely static, the psychology of Dawe’s interactive design encourages the viewer to complete the experience with a sense of motion.

I truly hope that an outdoor Plexus installation arrives in the near future. It would be a wonderful addition to the open air art throughout Dallas!

Plexus No. 4 by Gabriel Dawe

Plexus no. 4 by Gabriel Dawe

About Tanya Miller

Tanya is an art enthusiastic who relocated to Dallas after living abroad in Europe and Australia. She enjoys collecting art from her travels and interacting with the artists even more. Managing and curating the student art gallery, along with advanced studies and exhibition of her black & white 35mm photography, provided the much needed balance to her technical undergraduate studies. A Southern California girl at heart, Tanya enjoys an eclectic mix of artistic styles and is thrilled with the diversity of talent in the Dallas Fort-Worth Arts scene, where she is a docent with The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Interact with Tanya on Twitter at

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