On view until August 16th at Freight and Volume in New York, is Through Every Leaf, a two-person exhibition with work by Max Razdow and JJ Manford. Both Razdow and Manford conceptually express interest in visual exploration of the unknown, the metaphysical and psychological nature of things unseen. Manford makes large-scale paintings on canvas and Razdow, whose work is featured here, makes mixed media drawings on paper. While their work similarly seems to be composed in a mind over matter fashion, representational forms can be found in both artist’s practice, dreamlike shapes that emerge from a doodle one might make while on the phone that suddenly becomes something else. The artworks seem to have a hybridization of intentions, whereas the artists seek to tell a story while also fluctuating between conscious and subconscious states. Such could be said about the artistic process in general, most successful works, arguably for the artist, made in a euphoric psychological territory.
When one peers into the apparitional depths of Max Razdow’s drawings, identifiable elements often associated with a subconscious state can be found. There is a historical quality in the fantastical imagery he uses, a distorted translation from the middle ages or rather a reference to the way that this particular time period was graphically translated in the 1990s. Creatures emerge from immeasurable depths and stars explode in color streaked skies. His landscape is one to crawl into, to be sprinkled with graphite raindrops. Much of Razdow’s inspiration comes from literature, including the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The conceived landscapes are both inviting and ominous as they, in his words, “warn against disaster,” while others function as “spells to cast”. There is an obsessive quality to the mark making that could become overbearing but for the most part is stopped before it overwhelms the fibrous ground. Each drawing is mostly in tones of grey and black, however it is when color is used that allows for moments of transfixing. An enchanting interplay between positive and negative space exists in these realms and is defined by color or lack there of, harmoniously enveloping the otherwise riotous content. What is perceived as the sky often offers visual solace. These works channel something possibly read in a tarot card, extracted from album covers of early heavy metal bands or the yellowed pages of hardcover books waiting to be dusted off.
Dreams and surrealist imagery have a timeless quality, one that is relevant today while also conjuring a familiar visual dialogue from a not so distant past or maybe even nightmare.
Through Every Leaf also has one of Razdow’s largest works to date on view. From the artist’s website:
The Rift, is 30 feet long by 6’9” feet high, and depicts figures moving “against time” in a right-to-left progression. Passing from childhood to old age, they are depicted as crossing the threshold of the ocean rift, and into hermetic space then emptiness. This work is hung on the wall loosely, and its paper, coated in various paints, inks, sands and collages, wrinkles and pulses like the ocean’s surface. The Rift was made in the Summer of 2013, started on the beach in Aquinnah, MA (Martha’s Vineyard) using objects found in the sand such as crab sells, beach grass and stones, and finished later at the DNA Residency in Provincetown, MA. Its figures are sourced from small drawings prepared with sprays of ink and wooden maquettes, which are printed large and affixed loosely, presenting vertical instantiations of the human presence against the immutable sea and horizon.
Through Every Leaf is on view until August 16th, 2014.
For more information click here.