Andrea Rosen Gallery: Josiah McElheny - Paintings | Continuous Surfaces - 10 Sept 2015 to 24 Oct 2015
Josiah McElheny, Crystalline Prism Painting II, 2015
Oil paint, museum glass, hand formed, pressed and polished glass, wood, low-iron mirror
hardware, 29 x 24 x 6 1/2 inches (73.7 x 61 x 16.5 cm) Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery
September 10 - October 24, 2015
Andrea Rosen Gallery is proud to present Paintings, an exhibition of new work by Josiah McElheny. This is the artist's fourth solo exhibition with the gallery.
Josiah McElheny's artwork has often investigated the history of twentieth century modernism in architecture and design, in the hope of expanding on the dominant historical narrative and the criticality of our relationship to it. While continuing this dialogue with the history of aesthetics, Paintings represents a shift in McElheny's work towards a focus on the history of painting, and proposes that there is ongoing potential to be found in the utopian and revolutionary desires that gave rise to abstract painting at the beginning of the twentieth century.
In 2007, McElheny exhibited his work alongside the paintings of the "lost" pioneer of abstraction, Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), as part of a curatorial collaboration with curator Iris Müller-Westermann at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Af Klint is now finally credited with making the first non-objective painting in the Western fine-art tradition, and it is both her grand imagination and sense of purpose, and the idea of how histories are and can be constantly re-written, that has informed and inspired McElheny's new works.
In looking at the history of abstraction, through a scholarly approach, McElheny traces some of the essential moments of the past century. Referring to specific works by artists Kazimir Malevich, Wassily Kandinsky, Maya Deren, Ellsworth Kelly, Ad Reinhardt and Albert Oehlen, that were canonical touchstones and contributions to the conceptual fabric of this history, are here reimagined through the lens of the recently re-discovered visionary, af Klint. Her presence is seen in the various colors, prismatic effects, geometries and other elements of af Klint's symobolic language that appear in McElheny's paintings, conceptually collaged into the compositional approaches of these other familiar historical and living artists.
The smooth surface of McElheny's works, each faced with a plane of glass, is something that one sees through, and beyond. Challenging a Modernist perspective that painting is defined by and bound to its surface, these paintings-constructions of wood, mirror, glass, paint and, in two instances, video projection-acknowledge a painting's physical and imaginable space. Creating an image on, in and behind this material plane, the paintings alternation from "flat" to "deep", when simply viewed from the front and then the side.
Five paintings structured after works by Kandinsky and Malevich-McElheny's Crystalline Prism Painting I, II, III, IV, and VI-feature press-molded and polished glass prisms inset into a field of black, matte oil paint brushstrokes, visible behind or through a surface made of a sheet of "museum glass". The geometry of each prism offers a visual portal into a landscape of refracted light. Two related photograms, Prism I and Prism II translate these prismatic shapes into two-dimensional black and white abstractions, where theirstrict geometry is transmuted into an organic latticework.
Within three large monochromatic works-Blue Prism Painting V, VI and VII-one sees arrangements of solid, cut and polished blue glass forms, each form creating an ellipse at its apex. Here, the surface of the painting is a plane of blue architectural glass; subtle tonal variations play out across a grid structure borrowed from Reinhardt. The black exterior frame and the painting itself, in these works, are in essence one and the same (another nod to Reinhardt). Within, a mirrored interior naturally refracts light into the prismatic objects and also seems to extend the space of the room. In a related work, McElheny's Window Painting I-which echoes an iconic painting by Ellsworth Kelly from 1949-mirror and tinted grey glass create a mysterious space "beyond". But here the cylindrical prismatic objects standing inside seem to depict something, perhaps bottles, smokestacks or skyscrapers.
Finally, two works entitled Projection Painting I and Projection Painting II both present an animated, fractured landscape behind a large glass surface; upon each landscape, its own video projection plays out across a set of painted, undulating planes. Combining a ceiling mounted projector and wall-bound painting into a single work, they take as their starting point contemporary painter Albert Oehlen's forays into projections on paintings. As well, they return to McElheny's merging of sculpture and film in his earlier "Screens for Looking at Abstraction". Projection Painting I and II are both madein homage to another pioneer of abstraction (and surrealism), the filmmaker Maya Deren. Starting with lost and "abandoned" footage created by Deren, McElheny has re-filmed, deconstructed and extensively processed these moving images to suggest a world of abstraction that sometimes coalesce into bodies or objects, or, in reverse, where mannerist bodies passing through the painting seem to dissolve themselves into granular abstraction.
Across all these works, McElheny hopes to suggest the possibility of an expanded experience of viewing, a view of the images that exist within painting where the viewer's own physical movement offers additional vistas, imaginary or not. In McElheny's hands, mining the past lays the groundwork for a path forward, giving a glimpse not only into what could have been, but visions for what might be.
Accompanying the exhibition, is a new publication, a supplemental book that presents scholarly texts by curator and art historian, Iris Müller-Westermann, Senior Curator of International Art at Moderna Museet, Stockholm and by New York based scholar, critic and curator, Alex Bacon; in addition it includes a visual essay that traces the specific historical inspirations and touchstones for this group of works, in hopes to speak to both the past and future. An expanded exhibition catalogue, building upon the initial publication, will be published in October 2015.
Josiah McElheny lives and works in New York. Recent exhibitions include Dusty Groove, Corbett vs. Dempsey, Chicago; Josiah McElheny: Towards a Light Club, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH; Two Clubs at The Arts Club of Chicago, In Collaboration with John Vinci; The Past Was A Mirage I'd Left Far Behind, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Some Pictures of the Infinite, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston; and The Light Club of Vizcaya: A Women's Picture, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Miami. McElheny has forthcoming exhibitions at MAK, Vienna, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and Madison Square Park, New York. In 2014, The University of Chicago Press published Glass! Love!! Perpetual Motion!!!: A Paul Scheerbart Reader, co-edited by McElheny and Christine Burgin.
Sara Cwynar, Lukas Geronimas, Josh Reames, Cole Sayer
September 10 - October 24, 2015
Andrea Rosen Gallery is pleased to present Continuous Surfaces at Gallery 2. The exhibition features new work by Sara Cwynar, Lukas Geronimas, Josh Reames, and Cole Sayer. Writing in Artforum, Alexander Provan proposed that "every era has its interface, and every interface determines how we relate to the world." If the late 20th century was defined by the graphical user interface made popular by personal computers, the early 21st century is marked by the proliferation of touch screens, which mediate increasingly broad swaths of everyday life. Touch screen devices like phones and tablet computers represent a radically new kind of surface, one that is both physically flat and thin, but experientially depthless.
Working across a range of media, the artists in the exhibition touch on how we might perceive a space of infinite and ever changing content, laminated to a surface defined by its attempt to recede into a flat plane. What might this sensation look like, and how can media invented centuries ago continue to adapt to the world in which we live?
Sara Cwynar presents three works, each consisting of images assembled through collage and re-photography from objects and found photographs, a process of intervention and manipulation that ultimately disrupts the smooth surface and the perspective of the stock image. Embodying her interest in the way that images - from old magazines, postcards, catalogues - morph, accumulate, endure and evolve in meaning and value over time, Cwynar's work involves a constant archiving and re-presentation of collected visual materials. Highlighted here is the idea that images spanning the realms of the analog and the internet never die, but their powers to trick and seduce do wane and transform over time.
Lukas Geronimas' work proposes support and content as a spectrum, rather than a binary proposition. In this exhibition, Geronimas shows a life-size wood and plaster bathtub, adorned with drawings carved into the surface and then covered in India ink and graphite powder. The work is a sumptuously crafted object, yet immediately evokes the automatic scrawls and doodles that often mark school desks and bathroom stalls. With drawings wrapping and undulating around the work, drawing and material or content and support become indistinguishable from one another.
Consciously employing commonly used artistic techniques, such as trompe l'oeil, action painting, graphic design, screen printing, and rudimentary drawing, Josh Reames' paintings break down hierarchies of mark-making, art historical references, computer graphics, labels, and everyday objects in a manner drawn from the non-objective "infinite scroll" of images and information we encounter in both the online and real world. All incident exists on one plane and Reames' work has a borderless quality, its surface seemingly holding the potential to extend infinitely.
Cole Sayer's paintings act as a bridge between the digital and the physical. Each work begins as meticulously constructed, 3D models. These renderings are then executed in acrylic paint and overlaid with enlarged drawings painted with a vinyl paint that alternately reinforces the illusionistic space of the painting and calls to attention the physical reality of the paintings' two-dimensional linen support. Sayer often utilizes found 3D models culled from the internet. Through his work, these models undergo a transformative process where a physical object that has been translated into digital data and distributed online gets reconstituted back into a material object. Sayer's works speak to the way in which the world operates with a perpetual feedback loop so that the digital world can increasingly resemble the physical, and the physical more and more imitates the digital.
Sara Cwynar (b. 1984) received degrees from York University, Toronto and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She is currently enrolled in the MFA program at Yale University. Cwynar has an upcoming exhibition at Retrospective in Hudson, NY. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Foxy Production, New York; Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia; and Foam Photography Museum, Amsterdam. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Dallas Museum of Art. Her second artist book, Kitsch Encyclopedia, was published in winter 2014 and her third book, Pictures of Pictures was published by Printed Matter in fall 2014. Cwynar lives and works in New York.
Lukas Geronimas (b. 1980) received an MFA from Bard College in 2010. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at KANSAS, New York; Jack Chiles, New York; and Asian Song Society, New York. His work has been included in group exhibitions at The Suzanne Geiss Company, New York; ROOM EAST, New York; Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles; and P.P.O.W, New York. Geronimas lives and works in Brooklyn, USA.
Josh Reames (b. 1985) received his MFA from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2012. He has had recent solo and two-person exhibitions at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles; Moroso Projects, San Francisco; Circuit 12 Contemporary, Dallas; Annarumma Gallery, Naples; and Union League Club, Chicago. His work has recently been included in group exhibitions at Johannes Vogt, New York; LVL3, Chicago; Museo Di Capodimonte, Naples; 356 Mission, Los Angeles; Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, Brooklyn; The Hole, New York; Monya Rowe, New York; and Dittrich & Schlechtriem, Berlin. His work will be the focus of an upcoming two-person exhibition with José Lerma at Luis de Jesus, Los Angeles. Reames lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Cole Sayer (b. 1984) received his MFA from Columbia University in 2015. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at JTT, New York; Karma, New York; and Charlie Horse, Brooklyn. His work has been shown in group exhibitions at Michael Jon Gallery, Miami; BFP Gallery, Brooklyn; and White Flag Projects, St. Louis. Sayer lives and works in New York.
This exhibition is organized by Cory Nomura.