More often than not, student artwork gets pegged as “still developing” or “work in progress.” Not so for Daniela Campins. The Venezuela-born, UCSB-residing MFA candidate’s contemporary paintings are anything but unrealized, combining geometric structure and abstraction with a bold and contrasting color palette that challenges our perceptions even as it tickles our senses.

This week, Campins’s work will take over UCSB’s Gallery 479 in an ambitious solo-meets-group exhibition titled Spatium Sets. Using Campins’s paintings as a sort of jumping-off point, 11 artists from throughout California have also contributed works to Sets, and the combination of ideas and mediums is nothing short of inspiring. Next to bright, layered works like “Staged Bows and Arrows” (2010), Rema Ghuloum’s and Renée Gertler’s three-dimensional creations quite literally expand on the spaces, shapes, and textures that define Campins’s approach. Ghuloum’s “Painted Constructions” (2008) mimic the shape and confines of found branches and gemstones from afar, but up close they reveal an intentionally layered and meticulously haphazard construction process. Meanwhile Gertler’s “Secret Garden” (2007) contains a menagerie of intricate miniature constructions; papier-mâché “rocks” mix and mingle with delicate string and wood frames to create a dizzying mix of mediums and angles. Elsewhere, Daniel Tierney’s “Dojo” (2008) turns a color-saturated landscape into a three-dimensional diorama by playing painting’s simplest perception tricks.

Daniela Campins' "Staged Bows and Arrows".

Taken in its larger context, Campins’s Spatium Sets implies even more. The show, in conjunction with UCSB’s Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s series titled Geographies of Place, is constructed around the idea of space, architectural design, and each artist’s relationship to it. A sense of wide-eyed exploration runs throughout the majority of the show’s works, as does an intrinsic attention to detail, but the outcome is playful, not painstaking. It’s a collection of abstract insights that combine to create a true sense of creation, and a promise that there’s plenty to come from each of this Sets’ contributors.

Spatium Sets opens Saturday, November 13, at UCSB’s Gallery 479 and runs through Saturday, November 20. An opening reception will be held November 13, 6-9 p.m. For info and gallery hours, visit or


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