Informal Relations

I am delighted to have work included in "Informal Relations" a project curated by Scott Grow at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art:

contemporary abstract works on paper

December 3rd - January 15th
Opening reception is December 3rd from 6pm - 11pm
Gallery hours are Thursday - Saturday 11am - 6pm

The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) is pleased to announce the group exhibition, Informal Relations curated by Indianapolis based artist and curator Scott Grow.

Informal Relations presents recent abstract works on paper by a diverse group of international artists, and focuses on the diversity of practices-approaches, styles, and intentions-- within painting and abstraction today. The exhibition's title refers to kind the "informal relations" artists have with one another, their predecessors, with the modernist tradition, the future, and even with their own work. While works on paper may stand as finished works, they are also often places for exploration, thinking, planning, taking chances, and failure.

Abstract art is challenging because of its concrete and/or metaphoric nature which refuses expected representation, its defiance of language and absolute interpretation, and because it requires the viewer's engagement and participation. And because abstraction is not a singular school or style, the term itself is not necessarily helpful in identifying the qualities or concepts embodied in the art object: artists often naturally have shared and conflicting objectives for the art they make. Abstraction, which lends itself to various aesthetic, conceptual, and political stances, is broadly multiphasic, utilitarian, and flexible.

Each artist presented here confronts, investigates, and presents a definition of abstract painting true to his or her materials, motifs, and sensibilities. Informal Relations explores the similarities, differences, and connections between these artists, their dialog with abstraction's history, and various directions forward for abstraction.

This exhibition presents the works of 32 artists from across the United States and abroad. Participating artists include: Patrick Alt, Chris Ashley, Patrick Berran, Kadar Brock, Matthew Deleget, Laura Fayer, Keltie Ferris, Patrick Michael Fitzgerald, Connie Goldman, Brent Hallard, Rachel Hayes, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Michael Just, Matthew Langley, Jim Lee, Rossana Martinez, Rob Nadeau, Melissa Oresky, Paul Pagk, Danielle Riede,Maximilian Rödel , Eric Sall, Susan Scott, Gabriel J. Shuldiner, Jessica Snow, Henning Straßburger, Garth Weiser, Wendy White, Paige Williams, Douglas Witmer, Molly Zuckerman-Hartung and John Zurier.

For further information visit, www.indymoca.org



Things Read...Macbeth

...Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Macbeth, act V, scene 5


Things read...Thomas Bernhard

"I now had an opportunity to examine my grandfather's assertions. I had an obsessive desire to gather the evidence in my head, and so I began a strenuous search for the evidence, tracking it down in every direction, in every corner of the city of my youth and its surroundings. My grandfather had been right in his judgment of the world: it was indeed a cesspit, but one which engendered the most intricate and beautiful forms if one looked into it long enough, if one's eye was prepared for such strenuous and microscopic observation"
Thomas Bernhard


A few thoughts (doubts)...

How should we understand the political in art?
Everything is political on one level, or so it is said.
To be very wary of systems though… in thought too (My love for Pascal). And is it possible to do this in painting? Painting as something forever renegade?

Critical theory can become an orthodoxy in its own right. Before one knows it you are dancing with the devil.

We have seen that everything can become a commodity. Even ideas.
Is this an absolute? How determining is this fact? What status can things (eg. Paintings) have outside the commodity realm?
Painting has its inner worlds; its history makes it problematic but also provides the conventions and frameworks to sustain it (problematically).

Art needs to be problematic. Its very nature is problematic. Does this problematic nature need to be tempered by existential factors? What about pleasure?
The pleasure of making? The pleasure of viewing? Why shun these?

Painting is not one thing. It is not static. It is a confluence (a meeting place?).
Painting (as I see it) is pre-political. It is not sustained by circular critical theory in this sense. Can it lay the ground for kinds of experience from which we can learn (politically)? Crucially, painting can be a place where we can interact on many levels, especially at a phenomological level: forces, energy, synthesis, destruction, creation, openness, flow…

Dead Flowers

Dead Flowers, 2010, coloured pencil and collage on paper, 32.5 x 25 cm


Dublin - London

I have been away in Dublin and London. Returned recently. I saw a lot of things and spent time with good people, both family and friends. At the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin I saw for the first time Samuel Beckett's Film (1965). It is part of an exhibition called "The Moderns" that surveys Irish modernism in all its aspects. Film features Buster Keaton whom we only ever see from behind moving about a forlorn room and interacting with a number of objects. It was something of a revelation. There is a strange sense of being the viewer of the viewer. Here it is in two parts:

In London I was lucky enough to see the Paul Gauguin exhibition at Tate Modern (though I had to wade through unbearable crowds of people all shuffling around with their gaze lowered into audio/visual guides). The earlier works in the exhibition and some of the landscapes are extraordinary things, the way they are constructed, the use of colour, the strange compositions, the curved forms which overlap and interlock - and painted with feathery strokes which seem to activate the forms in some way, the space which is neither flat nor has depth in a conventional sense, the hybrid imagery so original yet obscure... and I could go on. Much is made of the figures; the girls and women. These are the motifs in many of the later paintings. I think it is important the way they are flattened and intersect or lock into the landscape around them. A single tree will often divide a landscape almost in the middle of the painting....an ancestor perhaps of a similar motif in my recent paintings and drawings: the spine.
Another day I ventured up the Finchley Road to the Camden Arts Center to see an exhibition of paintings by Rene Daniëls. I first discovered the work of Daniëls when I was still a student and it made a big impression on me. Occasions to view his work are very rare nowadays and though this was just a relatively small selection of paintings it is nevertheless a special opportunity to experience something of his painterly world: populated by such things as bow ties that become perspectival rooms, rats on skateboards, coat hangers, red landscapes, shoals of fish, trees with words for leaves... I saw the exhibition with another artist; Nick Miller. Talking of painting and its task he said that it is an adventure, in Daniëls this adventure with its risk and openness is at the core of what he does and is not without a certain irony and this in turn, I feel, defines their self-conscious poetry.
Zonder Title (Untitled), 1983, Oil on canvas © the artist
Courtesy of Paul Andriesse
Wandering around the West End galleries I came across a show of paintings by Beatriz Milhazes at Stephen Friedman Gallery. Somehow, like certain kinds of music (Jazz perhaps), they embody a hard won Joy. The technicality of their making (which must be elaborate) does not make them cumbersome - which is always a danger. Instead their geometry is fluid and festive. I was quite thrilled by them... I was lifted from an incipient melancholy that had been with me for most of the day. We know now (more than ever before) just how vast and terrifying those infinite spaces are that Blaise Pascal meditated upon. We know that from the perspective of the universe we are quite literally nothing, specs of insignificance. But we have to live our lives (we are condemned by our condition and physicality to do so) from the inside of our bodies and minds outwards. We have our own scale of experience, tempered by death, which highlights the extreme particularity of our created things. Against the backdrop of an impersonal universe and spans of time that are almost incomprehensible, there seems to be an extreme tension in the mere fact of the existence of say the music of Bach or the art of painting - so defined by its nuance and extremely specific qualities. A line is drawn in pencil...softly on the paper, a yellow smudge is placed in an instant on the canvas with an old brush, a small irregular piece of dark cloth is glued on the surface of the painting... there is a tension of scale, a dread and an awareness of fragility, of the sheer possible insignificance of what we are doing. This is the case in all our endeavours of course, but it is especially apparent in those that by nature, are willed into being even though we know they have no practical use or certain outcome. Why do we, as a species, as creatures and beings, have this capacity (is it a gift?), which in its most accomplished forms gives us the music of Bach or the paintings of Matisse?