Whitehot Magazine

April 2008, Cheyney Thompson @ Sutton Lane Gallery

Installation view, Cheyney Thompson, To be titled, 2008, oil on canvas, 70 x 53 inches / 177.8 x 134.6 cm,
Courtesy Sutton Lane, Paris

Cheyney Thompson
New Works
Sutton Lane Gallery
6, rue de Braque, Paris
18 March through April 6, 2008

New Works, is an exhibition by Cheyney Thompson at the Sutton Lane Gallery in Paris of just that, new work. The small but strong show consists of four oil on canvas paintings that relate with a larger body of work which is included in the current Whitney Biennial. The paintings on view demonstrate Thompson’s ongoing investigations of commodity and the marketplace, uses of repetition and media imagery, and the practice of formalist and history painting. This is the artist’s first solo show with the Paris branch of Sutton Lane.

Taking center stage are two large, abstract paintings, each measuring 70” x 53” that represent images derived from blurred and smudged photocopied papers, (similar to the results when a computer printer gets jammed), which have been scanned and then reprinted in black and white. At first glance they seem like abstract photographs—their reflective surfaces hard to determine. Painted in shades of gray that verge more towards darker tones nearing black, then into lighter tones, the resulting layers and folds can suggest anything from textured surfaces of rocks, clothing or a street. Thompson toys with convention. He uses these simple forms of printing, paper, trash and transforms them into lushly painted work. This manipulation of technology and medium and its eventual distribution into the marketplace is essential to Thompson’s oeuvre.

Installation view, Cheyney Thompson, To be titled, 2008, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches / 61 x 50.8 cm,
Courtesy Sutton Lane, Paris

A third painting, measuring 24” x 20”, is a grid of the sixteen shades of gray used to create the two abstract paintings just described. This small, rather subtle work highlights Thompson’s ongoing interest in formalist painting and how it can be applied to conceptual based art. Thompson seems as interested in the steps and movements that go into creating the work as with the resulting painting and this grid is representative of this objective. The detailed, time consuming methods of scanning, reprinting, etc. to achieve the desired “studies” for paintings and the decision to include color schemes used to make the work could almost suggest the preparations of an 18th century History painter.

Thompson explores the potential of painting as a means of distribution and commerce in the forth work in the show that represents a detail of the shirt sleeve of the artist’s landlord. The painting, measuring 24 x 20” stems from a body of work titled The End of Rent Control and the Emergence of the Creative Class, which was exhibited at the Daniel Bucholz Gallery in the summer of 2006. For this project Thompson has specifically selected his landlord, a person who deals with property exchange, money, the transfer of goods—perhaps not too different from the art marketplace. The show included two series of four portraits of the landlord and his wife, all painted in the CMYK four-colour scheme found on standard color printers. At Sutton Lane he presents a cropped image of the landlord’s flannel print shirt-sleeve in just CMK, leaving out the yellow (Y). It’s an abstracted yet intimate piece that highlights his interest in systemic means of art production and the merging of technology and the handmade.

Installation view, Cheyney Thompson, To be titled, 2008, oil on canvas, 24 x 20 inches / 61 x 50.8 cm , 2008,
Courtesy Sutton Lane, Paris

Thompson’s work is dense and engaging. We enter into it slowly, gathering information and making connections, only to realize that we are only beginning to comprehend the beginning of the story.

Blaire Dessent

Blaire Dessent was born in La Jolla, California and settled in Paris in 2008 after ten years in New York City where she worked in contemporary art. She was formerly the Director for the Art Omi International Artists’ Residency, a non-profit arts organization based in Columbia County, New York. Her current project is The Vitrine, www.thevitrine.com, a creative platform for talented makers and thoughtfully designed objects. She holds a Masters in Art History from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.

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