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Gallery Favorites – Reuben Wu: Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites from
Reuben Wu: Areoglyphs and Other Nocturnes

This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff has the pleasure of picking a favorite work from Reuben Wu's solo exhibition Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes on view at photo-eye Gallery through November 16,2019.
Installation view of Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes at photo-eye Gallery

While all of Wu’s photographs in Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes technically feature enigmatic shapes drawn in the air with light above monumental landscapes, each piece feels unique.  From the vivid, yawning halos encircling towering mountain peaks, to subtle shapes that blend seamlessly into ethereal atmospheres, these works manage to feel cohesive, and yet simultaneously stand as stark individuals. This week, photo-eye Gallery’s staff has yet again been charged with the difficult pleasure of picking a favorite work from the current exhibition.

Anne Kelly Selects: LN 0377

Reuben Wu, LN 0377Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950

Anne Kelly
Gallery Director
(505) 988-5152 x121
It has been a busy year for Wu. Just through photo-eye he has exhibited work at photo LA, AIPAD in New York, and now, here in Santa Fe, for his solo show Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes. All the while Wu has continued to produce fresh new images, like those from the recently released Fields of Infinity, which is truly impressive based on the lengths that he goes through to create each piece. I look forward to seeing what comes next. In the meantime, though all of Wu’s images are remarkable, the first image that I connected to, remains my favorite. There is just something particularly haunting about LN 0377 (Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in future III). I believe that my kinship with this image relates to having spent the last 20 years living in the Southwest. Though I have never been to this particular location, and it is not in New Mexico, the expansive geographic formation with the perfect harmony or dark rekindles memories of camping in the desert (in Diablo & Chaco Canyon) when I first relocated from Colorado to Santa Fe. A reminder of the sense of awe that I experienced exploring my new home state — and other places that I plan to explore in the future. 

Alexandra Jo Selects: XT1768

Reuben Wu, XT1768, Archival Pigment Print, 15 x 20 inches, Edition of 10, $950

Alexandra Jo
Gallery Assistant
(505) 988-5152 x116
I’ve always been drawn to the way that Reuben Wu’s photography is able to compress and overlay a sense of time– past and future legible in the present. His clean, futuristic aesthetics combined with references to ancient symbols and the concepts of the land art movement make his work feel tangible, present, and fantastical all at once. My favorite work in the exhibition is XT1768, one of two works in Aeroglyphs from Wu’s most recent body of work, Field of Infinity, which was created this year in Bolivia.  For me, the most successful aspect of this particular work is the tension between movement and stillness, between passing time and a frozen instant, which Wu is able to achieve. The single line of light down the center of the composition evokes images of a portal opening, an origin expanding, or a heavenly body’s trajectory. And yet the stars in the sky around Wu’s illuminated drone are frozen in place, little points of white light flung out into rich blue. The flooded salt flat below reflects the lighted drone path crisply in a field of bleached whites and pastel lavender-blues. The composition contains a symmetry that draws the viewer directly into the horizon and the un-earthy colors contained there. The viewer sees stillness, yet understands that everything in the visual field is truly in motion, from the drone in flight, to the planet spinning amongst the starts. For me, this heightened awareness of and relationship between scales-- micro and macro, man and nature, earth and universe-- is important to realize, and a comfort to imagine.

Lucas Shaffer Selects AE 1144

Reuben Wu, AE 1144, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950
Lucas Shaffer
Special Projects & Client Relations
(505) 988-5152 x114
If you’re familiar with any of the advertising for Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes, than it may come as no surprise that AE 1144 is one of my favorite images from the exhibition. As the individual in charge of designing promotional materials for photo-eye Gallery, I’ve put AE1144 everywhere I could – it’s on the banner outside the gallery, our Facebook cover image, our blog ad, and it’s posted on our homepage. If the word obsession comes to mind, I think that’s a fair assessment.

AE1144 resonates with me because of its striking design and curious emotional impact. Unlike many of the works in Aeroglyphs and Other Nocturnes, AE 1144 gives the viewer more environmental context, there is literally more space and information in the image than Wu usually provides. Using a powerful single-point perspective, Wu illustrates a vibrant green river surrounded by a sloping silhouetted embankment. The composition points toward a trio of precisely-spaced glowing lines hovering at the horizon, and this all is set against the pastel backdrop of the sky at sunset. It’s a high-contrast scene dominated by sumptuous colors, deep black voids, and Wu’s impeccable sense of composition. AE 1144 marries comforting familiar elements with those that seem both otherworldly and unexpected. The effect is both serene and unsettling.

In an interview with Anne Kelly earlier this year, Wu mentioned 19th-Century sublime landscape painting as an inspiration for his work and I feel like that connection is very present in AE 1144. In Romantic period paintings featuring sublime landscapes, artists focused on depicting nature, like craggy mountain cliffs, dark chasms, and roiled seas, to create the feeling of a “pleasurable terror.” While that phrase is a little dramatic, I do think there is something thrilling about trying to comprehend the unknown strength of Nature’s awesome power, even from the safety of the gallery's interior. I think Wu’s work, and AE 1144 in particular, taps into the thrill of the unknown: a complex combination of excitement, curiosity, and anxiety, as it’s related to the future, new technology, and our interaction with the environment. This complexity is one of the reasons I love Wu’s images. The stunning visual design draws you in, but you are also asked to consider deeper questions about the responsible use of technology and the responsible treatment of the natural world, not to mention connections to historical mark-making, and performance. AE 1144 is gorgeous, delightful, and maybe a little dangerous – certainly an image and experience I have enjoyed reviewing on a daily basis.  

Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes is on view at photo-eye Gallery through November 16, 2019. If you live in Santa Fe, or happen to be visiting we'd love to have you stop by.

»Read more about Reuben Wu's Process

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published.

For more information, and to purchase artworks, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at:
(505) 988-5152 x 202 or

Exhibition Catalogue Available for Preorder
(Shipping Late October)

*Limited copies available

Aeroglyphs & Other Nocturnes: Photographs by Reuben Wu
Kris Graves Projects, Queens, New York, United States, 2019. In English. 30 pp., 16 color plates, 8½x9"