november 19 - december 23, 2010 opening friday, november 19, 6-8 gallery hours: wednesday-sunday, 11-6
Thierry Goldberg Projects is pleased to present "Unclaimed Space," new work by KADAR BROCK. The paintings on view are the result of old work that the artist has transformed through a process of erasure. In this sense, the new work consists of residues, traces, specters—end products, evidence of what's left over, after the original images have been almost completely destroyed. In this way, Brock pushes the image to its threshold, stripping away and discarding what the canvas, and by extension, the artist himself, once held fast to, in order to see what remains.
As well as whitewashing the canvas, Brock has scraped and rubbed the canvas down to a plaster-like smoothness, fissured here and there with hairline cracks and ripples. What remains is a kind of radiant detritus, a painting that is a ghost-image, filled with the traces of the almost-entirely eradicated original. Lines and layers of grey appear on the surface like creased sheets of sheer drapery, or overlapping tracing paper with a near-transparent quality. Some of the brushstrokes of the old images,
especially where the paint had been applied thickly, make patterns across the canvas, suggesting the painting's history, but one that is hard to decipher. Viewers are limited in their ability to imagine what the painting might once have looked like. And yet it goes without saying that these new paintings are not significant merely as artifacts, or as nostalgic emblems of an irretrievable past that has been destroyed and rejected. Certainly, these erasures, or "revised" works, if we may call them that, stand alone. Their ghostly appearance, bordering somewhere between alien decrepitude and an aura-filled sublime, give them a dynamic and dramatically provocative quality.
While the canvases conjure up vistas, abstract and vast, one is never allowed to rest purely in the beauty of the works. Indeed, the canvases are literally punctured with holes made during the removal of paint with power sanders and window scrapers. These holes, like little voids, resembling gunshots on a wall, complicate and counter the feeling of complete repose that the image elicits. With a kind of gritty eeriness, the canvas bears the marks of the violence it underwent to become the piece that it has become. Yet again, this feature is not definitively one-sided in its significance either, since the holes, while being evidence of the destructive process, also recall satellite photographs of cities or constellations in their scattered pattern across the canvas. In this sense, the painting never lets us rest in our understanding of it.
Toying with the notion of what painting is in this way, we have a new understanding of what it really means to "kill your darlings," as William Faulkner once advised. And yet, while Brock, by destroying his early work, has rejected it in one sense, he has, obviously, not disposed of it completely. Rather, through a process of deletion that recalls the practices of Brice Marden or Lucio Fontana, the artist has used a method of eradication to make something new. Destruction becomes a way, paradoxically, to arrive at a painting. Putting pressure on the romantic notion of pure expression, the artist attempts to discover whether, after the canvas has been denuded of its identifiable characteristics, there is still something left to declare itself. And yet, as the artist himself is well aware, by flirting with these liminal spaces in which the painting may or may not exist, there is always the danger of failure. Here, the painting always runs the risk of being reduced to nothing at all.
In keeping with the practice of erasure, Brock's works on paper consist of phrases that the artist originally wrote out by hand, then spray-painted over and obscured. By deleting or at least somewhat concealing his own handwriting, which is, after all, another kind of evidence of the self, another means of self-expression, Brock once more toys with our expectations. By disordering the usual order of things in a way that brings the works of artists like Christopher Wool to mind, we, like the painter, find ourselves viewing something that hovers somewhere between the affirmative and the nihilistic. Taking away what seemingly constitutes the traits and tenets of expression, we are left unsure what is left to be configured or reconfigured—uncertain what to make from these fragments shored against our ruins.
KADAR BROCK was born in New York in 1980 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. He holds a BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art. His work has been previously exhibited at The Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art; Motus Fort, Tokyo, Japan; Leo Koenig Projekte, New York; Mike Potter, Cologne, Germany; Exit Art, New York; Freight + Volume, New York; BUIA Gallery, New York; and Asia Song Society, New York.