May 3 – June 20th, 2013
The Hole is very excited to present a major show looking at new approaches in abstract painting, XSTRACTION, opening this Friday May 3rd at the Hole in our main gallery. This show includes legends in the field, some “overlooked” older artists, some completely unknown young artists, and indeed many of the most exciting emerging and established artists in the genre. We hope to present some of the various tendencies in the tradition of abstract painting from where they may have begun to where they are going today.
While a director at the former Deitch Projects, Kathy Grayson was very inspired by Nicola Vassel’s exhibition “Substraction” in 2008 that looked at abstraction influenced by the streets (including Sterling Ruby, Dan Colen, Rosson Crow, Aaron Young, Kristin Baker and Elizabeth Neel). Grayson then curated her own sister show there, “Constraction”, that featured artists working in a more conceptual abstract mode (including Tauba Auerbach, Joe Bradley, Peter Coffin, Xylor Jane, Mitzi Pederson and Ara Peterson). These two exhibitions remain fresh and influential today, and introduced two of the many tendencies this larger show “X-Straction” will explore. The “X” stands for any prefix one might want to adhere, any angle with which the viewer would like to approach this exhibition, beyond the few additional strains I single out below:
One of the commonalities of the works in this exhibition is a textile-based and “craftstraction” approach haha just kidding; I promise no more neologism. This kind of shredded, woven, ragged, wrinkled and dyed abstraction includes artists like Landon Metz or Sam Moyer (who use dyes and bleach respectively) or Dianna Molzan or Ethan Cook who weave, sew and stitch their canvasses. Ayan Farah uses silks or unusual linens and the exposure to the elements to create her “forensic” abstract works that show light and soil and heat, or even volcanic activity, as registered on her fabrics. Even Mark Flood whose main oeuvre may be said to be intensely punk and political contributes a work from his elegant “lace paintings” that somehow convey in paint torn skeins of lace or burlap around a black void.
A new and timely update to the tradition of abstract painting involves the use of digital tools or digital aesthetics in the works, beginning perhaps with the computer chipped and networked paintings of Peter Halley (whose style developed in the 80s when home computers were barely emerging) that serves as an influence for young artists like Travess Smalley or Wendy White, as well as a pioneer of digital printing techniques like Wade Guyton or vanguard digital artist Cory Arcangel. Adam Henry, for example, paints like a CMYK printer, squirting out bits of additive color that mix into a final color, while Trudy Benson paints with lines and textures that come out of the language of Photoshop tools. Greg Bogin, Sayre Gomez, Stefan Bondell, Peter Demos, Wil Murray, Evan Gruzis, even Xylor Jane’s hand made number systems: these pixelated, airbrushed, gradient-ed, or Photoshopped works show the ways that computers can both be a tool and a subject for abstract explorations.
Another strain of abstract thinking comes from a tradition exemplified in the influential career of Rudolf Stingel, whose literalness in approach to materials and phenomenology introduced the interest in young artists for trodden-upon, dirtied, worn out or even “entropic” abstraction. The works may be accidental, disposable, destroyed. These pieces come out of life: they are what they are, but then magically, and irresistibly can’t help but also be something intangibly poetic. Andrew Sutherland composes his acrylic paintings within a large folded trash bag; Angel Otero bunches up paint soaked canvas around the armature to resemble a ruched and rumbled sack of a painting. The work of Sarah Braman, Oscar Murillo, James Krone, Kadar Brock and Thomas Øvlisen perhaps fit in best here as well, where materials take on a tendency that seems almost an inertia in the aesthetic realm. “Relational Abstraction” would be a word I would be sorely tempted to make up here. Or even “Distraction” hahaha sorry.
In a more general way material-driven and un-painterly abstraction is an overlapping theme, where the artist’s hand is not only invisible but out of the question. These artists have found ways to make wall works that refer to the tradition of abstract painting while never involving paint or fabric or brushes. Davina Semo presents a painting made from only industrial orange chains, Tim Bergstrom works with glue and wire, Peter Sutherland with sand, McArthur Binion with wax and crayon, Ara Peterson with laser-cut wood slats, etc. These artists may do amazing things that transform these untraditional materials into something rich and strange, but always do so within the confines and logic of the materials chosen. Richter’s squeegee, Anoka Faruqee’s handmade rake-brushes or Karl Klingbiel’s weird woodblocks fit into a branch of this un-traditional painting which involves an innovation in the tools of the painter.
This exhibition will be documented (along with the two Deitch Projects exhibitions at long last!) in a new “encyclopedia” of abstraction available during the run of the exhibition printed by Anteism Books, available on the gallery website immediately and in bookshops this fall.
This exhibition received support from so many enthusiastic and helpful people like Paul Bright, Leo Koenig, Kavi Gupta, Sean Horton, Joe Sheftel, Jesper Elg, V1 Gallery, Loyal Gallery, Zach Feuer, Jeffrey Deitch, Canada Gallery, Mitchel-Innes & Nash, Halsey McKay, Mary Boone, Lehmann Maupin, Higher Pictures, Lisa Jacobs, Jeremy Kost, Toby Clarke, Rachel Uffner, Nicola Vassel, Eric Cahan, Miriam and TEAM, Harley Smart, Michael Nevin, Stefan Bondell and all my buddies who like to discuss art with me and help me sniff out new talent and track down awesome artworks.