May 4 — June 22, 2018
By CHRIS BORS, September 2018
The allure of painting has never been stronger than now. Perhaps it’s the way Instagram makes it easily shared and digested by droves of folks instantly from anywhere in the world, or its relative ease of display for collectors. Even though trends come and go, Zombie Formalism and Geometric Abstraction come to mind; it’s a painter’s world, we just live in it. What’s lost online though is the materiality, scale and presence, which is where a brick and mortar space still trumps a slew of “likes.” At Art Seen, a challenge of how to parse the diverse range of approaches currently taking place in the medium was set upon the viewer by curator Maria Stathi, who provided enough visual excitement and conceptual rigor to stay awhile.
Pulling you into the space as an entryway or portal is Jost Münster’s Circuit (2018), which hangs from the ceiling and allows one to see through it’s grid-like structure, as it had large areas of negative space throughout. Another work upstairs by the same artist, Gateway (2018) provides a similar feel, with an ever more prescient title. A more minimal deconstruction was taking place in Panayiotis Doukanaris’s Traces of an Event (2018), in which oil paint is applied to canvas thread on a bundle directly on the floor, bringing to mind the remnants of the weaving process or an organic form such as a bale of hay in a field.
Raymonde Beraud’s approach to abstraction also suggests organic forms, but places them over a grid that brings to mind a natural stone wall in On a Clear Day (2017). What stands out in this work is the unusual textures inside some of the shapes, in juxtaposition to an array of others that have solid colors and stripes. The colourful hexagonal designs of Closed Motifs 241 (2018) by Andreas Savva, which are further split into rhombuses, could be presented in endless permutations, suggesting a schematic diagram or a molecular structure. The application of powdered pigment creates a delicate surface despite the monochromatic hue of individual parts. Gary Colclough’s Down, Down, Down (2017), with its wooden frame extending downward, turns the triangular abstraction that it envelops into a flag-like form.
A more recognizable depiction of our world are the combines of Eleni Phylau, such as Metaxochori (2018). Jutting out in the front of and attached to a brushy landscape is a found object of a woman riding a horse in a similar colour scheme. Although the idea dates back to Duchamp, the integration of such a readymade resembles an isolated part of a Robert Rauschenberg. The humanistic The Breath Inside my Mind (2016—17) by Vangelis Gokas is a series of 34 portraits on tiny wood supports the size of a matchbox. Whether or not we recognize some of the public figures (artists, actors, writers et al.) depicted, mixed in with invented persons, the ability to move them around on their supplied shelf seems key. Like the exhibition as a whole, giving the viewer a range of possibilities leads to meaningful comparisons among the varied approaches, as well as the merits of individual works. Overall, it is clear that a pluralist approach reigns, as the different styles exhibited here are more about the individual than the whole, which brings us back to Instagram: look at me. WM
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Chris Bors is a New York-based artist and writer who received his MFA from School of Visual Arts. He has had solo exhibitions at Envoy Gallery in New York and Go North in Beacon, New York. His art has also been exhibited at MoMA PS1, White Columns, and Sixtyseven in New York, Casino Luxembourg in Luxembourg, Bahnwärterhaus in Esslingen, Germany, and Bongout in Berlin. He has written for Artforum.com, ArtReview, Art in America, Artnet.com, Modern Painters, Artinfo.com, Metropolis M, and Artillery and is the former Managing and Photo Editor for Artinfo.com and Museums. His guilty pleasures include thrash metal, hardcore punk, and professional wrestling. www.chrisbors.com