December 16th, 2011 - February 4th, 2012
Opening Friday, December 16th, 6-9PM
“…” is a group exhibition exploring new tendencies in abstraction. The artists featured all explore a material-driven or process-based approach to abstract painting—beautifully brushless—with a strong dose of humour or the absurd. There are also lots of dots. Hey: it’s an abstract painting show!
Scott Reeder makes visually scintillating spray paintings on canvas using the shadows left behind from spaghetti, lentils, and other foodstuffs. These products are often Italian—the nationality of the Arte Povera movement he is reprising. Pasta, Italy, capito? If the Arte Povera movement challenged established art conventions through its use of found or "low" materials, and if abstract expressionism was in many ways a tradition of American hegemony during the Cold War and the ultimate in “high art seriousness” as practitioners confronted the sublime and the subconscious in their energetic output, Scott’s paintings are a strange hybrid of both. Reeder calls himself an “agnostic” when it comes to painting and these works exhibit a profound ambivalence, with nonetheless a visual seductiveness that aims to engage.
Sam Moyer makes tonal paintings with bleach and dye, treating the canvas as just another swath of cloth, but also turning the canvas into an illusion of fabric with her weaving, patterned strokes and her illusionistic implications of a fluffy duvet cover all puckered and folded. Unlike Morris Louis or the other poured and stained Color Field painters, Sam makes her viewers unable to consider the work as a window into something or a transportation to another place by insisting on the visual reality that they are staring at a piece of cloth mounted onto some wood. The attention to line and tone evoke the considerations one might encounter pondering an Agnes Martin, while her process insists upon the domesticity or even craftiness of her work.
Kadar Brock took the neon paintings from his “failed” series of canvasses from 2005-2008 and in a seeming fit of despair, covered them with various whites, blues and greyed-out paints negating his former exuberance. Folded and pulled, they are then subjected to more angsty torture of sanding, shredding with a razor, more paint and more sanding until Kadar ends up with a result that is a smooth as a baby’s butt; an evocative, ethereal surface. The patterns are dictated largely by a series of 12-sided die rolls and an arbitrary compositional formula attached to the die. How could so much despair and futility, not to mention arbitrariness turn into something so sublime? That is our puzzle.
Matt Jones was once told that he needed to hone and focus his use of space. Grumpily he threw white paint onto wet black paint and painted outer space. Whether his peers accepted this as a concerted exploration of space in a painting is unknown; but what he ended up with, perhaps accidentally, is a richly textured, beautifully depth-filled galactic series of abstract paintings. Hiding reds, purples, greens and blues in the rich black, Matt throws white paint onto the surface pulling colors out of the deep void to create small halos of color around each droplet. In case you did not realize that Matt is an abstract artist exploring space, he has hung a planetarium painting above our heads for good measure. While the space paintings are paintings of "everything that exists simultaneously", his internal energy paintings on the adjacent wall are paintings of the intangibility of experience. They are "the you that you can’t see."
Lest we find this press release too self-consciously “clever", let me reaffirm that all these artists are crucially interested in being a part of the traditions of abstract painting, while turning the perhaps misapplied seriousness of its legacy on its head. They all seek a way of making a sincere and poignant abstract expression of feelings and ideas, but use various methods of distancing themselves from the myth of the lone artist pushing paint around with their heroic brush; in fact none of these artists use a brush per se.
To be a young artist who engages with the daunting abyss of the abstract tradition, these artists critique and burlesque the enormity of the philosophical trajectories of abstraction, while not quite wanting to let them die. The humor is there to humanize abstraction and to acknowledge the widely perceived futility of it, while the artists themselves do not see abstract approaches as futile. Perhaps the more apt quote (elided of course) would be from Herman Hesse “It is an … idea that the more pointedly and logically we formulate a thesis, the more irresistibly it cries out for its antithesis.”
To see available works please contact email@example.com