Frame by frame, it’s all good

Sometimes, works of art are so attractive, so compelling, that you just have to move closer and hope they are as complex as they are good looking. Throughout the last year, Dimensions Variable, a Knight Arts Challenge finalist for 2011, has delivered on both accounts in its site-specific exhibitions. The latest show from Magnus Sigurdarson, “Absenteeism,” might be the best example so far. Drive or walk by the space on 38th Street and from the outside you’ll get as good a look as any. The artist hung — no, really painstakingly placed — picture and painting frames, which form their own grid and, in the end, their own art piece. Looking in from the outside, they appear like a giant Mondrian; blond wood square supports, over which canvas paintings are stretched, are placed next to classic black frames, all of different sizes, to create a geometric painting all of its own.

It looks as good from a distance as it does up close.

These frames are empty — hence the derivation of the title, “Absenteeism.” They suggest something is missing or that you should fill in the blanks. We all need a “frame” of reference, but just what is that? It’s a question the Icelandic artist wants to ask. There is a patterning here and a grid, but the essence is yet to be filled in. As the artist explained, “like the name of the space, Dimensions Variable, there are various dimensions here.”

Sigurdarson collected all these frames throughout the years, and then, piece by piece, fitted them to cover the walls of the storefront space. And yet he left something empty. The “support,” literally, is here, but where is the actual art? The notes to the show might help explain: “He is allowing his practice to be determined by the demands of the space and shifting his attention to the structures that support ‘the work. … This process has brought him to the realization that the absence of his work is the work, thus embracing absenteeism as a new state of working.” And it all looks good.“Absenteeism” by Magnus Sigurdarson runs though Aug. 27 at Dimensions Variable, 171 N.E. 38th St., Miami;