“…”, Installation view, 2012 photo: Adam Reich Photography Image courtesy of The Hole

“…” was a painting exhibition on view at The Hole on Bowery in New York City from December 16th until February 4th, 2012. All of the artists are part of a new wave of contemporary abstract painters. Collectively, they all choose to abstain from narrative identification in their work. The movement was somewhat defined back in June 2011 by Sharon L. Butler for the Brooklyn Rail in her article “Abstract Painting: The New Casualists“. In the article, Butler discusses abstract painting from its inception with the Abstract Expressionists to its more recent incarnation with a group of young painters that have been deemed by Raphael Rubenstein in 2009 essay in Art in America as the provisional painters. All of the works in “…” dealt with traditional abstraction and problematic searches for solutions along with the attempt to divorce from formalistic qualities in painting. However in  the process of a new dialogue with an “old language” so to speak, the artists have found ways to reference time, space and magic.  From Sharon L. Butler’s article:

They [the artists] also harbor a broader concern with multiple forms of imperfection: not merely what is unfinished but also the off-kilter, the overtly offhand, the not-quite-right. The idea is to cast aside the neat but rigid fundamentals learned in art school and embrace everything that seems to lend itself to visual intrigue—including failure.

“…”, Installation view, 2012 photo: Adam Reich Photography Image courtesy of The Hole

Failure is an interesting concept that has always been a relevant marker regarding art making and stylistic evolution. However, in this new form of abstraction the work seems to reveal indications both of happenstance and intention. The painted forms, shapes and areas of deconstruction don’t necessarily seem to be planned or fall into a certain location within the frame of the canvas.  But the paint itself and the memory of physical presence by an artist who interacted with the surface is evident in each varied body of work.  Where failure may come into play is through dynamic action, application and removal of substance onto the canvas surface. Artist Kadar Brock, decided to paint over and erode certain sections of his canvas which housed previous works he no longer deemed successful. But here, failure is now a functioning resolution.
“…” was well curated and impeccably installed, whereas the large works from each individual artist didn’t detract or interfere within a spatial context but rather were visually complimentary.  Selected  artists, Kadar Brock, Matt Jones, Sam Moyer, and Scott Reeder, have all been active within the contemporary painting scene for quite some time and find common ground in their individual searches for ways of exploring a non-narrative approach and distancing between the artist and his work.

Matt Jones, Energy Paintings, “…”, Installation view, 2012 photo: Adam Reich Photography Image courtesy of The Hole

The Hole is a large gallery located along the border of the East Village and Lower East Side of Manhattan. While it seems that the mentioned exhibition was a bit testosterone heavy, fortunately it was  balanced out by the presence of a parallel show titled Love Before Intimacy, featuring the large paintings of Lola Schnabel. With a limited color palette somewhat aesthetically similar to that of Matt Jones whose work hung nearby, Lola also makes paintings that are fresh and challenging. However, whereas the artists from “…” adapt a reductive approach, Schnabel uses a multitude of layers and gives small hints to figuration and landscape.  While it is impossible to recognize an identifiable place she deals with romanticism, dreams and unbridled love in what the press release identifies as a remote Greek island and a “…time of love before sexuality”.

Kadar Brock, redemic, 2008-2010. Oil, acrylic, house and spray paint on canvas. 58 x 54 in, 2012 photo: Adam Reich Photography Image courtesy of The Hole

Both exhibitions were a reflective success of the current state of contemporary painting. In the late 1940’s Jackson Pollock was investigating and utilizing a technique of dripping and splashing paint onto a surface in hopes of eliminating his own touch. Contemporary artists are striving to look towards the past with didactic measure in order to acquire tools that can then be reinterpreted and forgotten. With hopeful exhibitions such as “…” and Love Before Intimacy, 2012 may be the year of amnesic bliss.
“…” featured Kadar Brock, Matt Jones, Sam Moyer, Scott Reeder and was on view from December 16 – February 4th, 2012 at The Hole 312 Bowery NYC.
Lola Montes Schnabel: Love Before Intimacy was also on view at The Hole from December 16 – February 4th, 2012.

Lola Montes Schnabel, Exchange of Youth for Knowledge, 2011 Image courtesy of The Hole

More soon!