Painting in due time
Scott Anderson, Lydia Dona, Denzil Hurley, Harriet Korman,
Hanneline Røgeberg, Marcus Weber
June 29 – July 28, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, June 29, 6 – 8:30 pm
Thomas Erben Gallery is pleased to present Painting in due time, a group exhibition of multistylistic and intergenerational painters. In the works of Scott Anderson, Lydia Dona, Denzil Hurley, Harriet Korman, Hanneline Røgeberg, and Marcus Weber, the materials, techniques, and conventions of painting give way to new experimentation, where extended viewing is rewarded with vibrant and surprising effects.
In Harriet Korman's works (b. 1947, Bridgeport, CT), an impression of pure geometry gives way to complex, painterly constructions. Untitled (1979) depicts a plane of color fields, their rolling outlines suggesting a lying figure. Upon closer inspection, the seemingly flat colors are understood as lightly feathered and beautifully textured, with subtle layers of pigment built up in a delicate evolution. This understated technique is similarly present in Untitled (2014), a canvas dominated by a geometric form integrated within a white ground. Rectangular shapes with heavily saturated colors recall the aesthetics of hard edge painting, but the soft brush handling complicates this reference, with loosely drawn crosses scarring the even surfaces. Over time the areas appear to conflict, as Korman's penchant for surface and attention to edges dramatize the play of colors.
Using gesture to upturn expectation is a technique similarly present in the work of Lydia Dona (b. 1955, Bucharest). In a work like Movement-Image and Molecular Memories (1995), Dona's canvas centers on a large pink orb, painted in an even, flat tone. This form is, however, constructed from the background; it is given shape through the superimposed ornamentation that arcs around the picture. In these scratchy, looping, coral-like forms, Dona employs the flattened aesthetics and unmodulated colors of printmaking to animate the painted surface. In the lower left corner seep in mechanical parts that recall Marcel Duchamp's Large Glass, suggesting Dona's interest in using the conflict between schematic and gestural elements as a productive engine for her work. Golden Blasting into the Urban Tissue (2017) incorporates these strategies as well, where a pale yellow field is subsumed in interlocking linear elements and wild, flowing masses of pigment.
In the Field (2017), a diptych by Hanneline Røgeberg (b. 1963, Oslo), presents two canvases linked by their content as well as by her process. Each work depicts a single site at different points in time, and overlaid on top, the artist paints an additional outline that is impressed from one onto the other. This slippage between images is central to the artist's work, as there is often political significance to the historical sites she depicts. In enacting a transfer between the two surfaces, Røgeberg treats the images as a form of language or memory code that can be re-used, translated, or taken up by ideology. The partial cover-up of the image reflects this distrust, and the fact that its meanings can be inverted. In another large-scale work, Lede (2015), this haziness is given a more autonomous form, with layers of paint overlapping one another in a washy, though material fog of blues and lavenders.
Using fragmented pictorial spaces, Scott Anderson's (b. 1973, Urbana, IL) work unifies disparate representational references. A canvas like Adult Contemporary (2016) conveys the breadth of Anderson's references, as he pulls from various images, styles, and periods. Multiple images appear to overlap in a refracted, gemlike space, out of which moments become legible. Cartoon-like faces and profiles populate the work, their features rendered in soft color and light strokes. At the center of the work floats an ambiguous symbol: a bisected cube, pierced with a circle. The distinction between line and volume, surface and flatness, and description and nondescription is alternatively negotiated and collapsed. These visual ambivalences run through Webber vs. Sous – Vide (2017) too, where blocks of red and green clash and vibrate, echoing the gestural turmoil of the work's content.
Marcus Weber's (b. 1965, Stuttgart) paintings portray urban spaces, focusing on their function as complex, social sites. With their bright color and cartoonish forms, the works show iconic elements of city planning – squares, parks, streets – overtaken by masses of blocky figures. In his heavily applied paints, Weber caricatures various personas, pulling cyclists, women with strollers, birds and dogs as well as joggers into layered, geometric surfaces. The angular compositions emphasize these elaborately patterned forms, drawing attention to the beautifully textured brushwork. The grace of this handling is often in contrast to the subjects themselves, who are often reduced into flat marks, or grotesque lumps. In F-Hain (2010), for example, two walking figures have grotesquely shaped, sculpturally modeled heads that appear impossibly heavy. In the foreground, a ghostly type, wearing the signature cap of an ETA terrorist, is depicted with a pure white face and bright red eyes.
Denzil Hurley (b. 1949, Barbados), in two oil on linen constructions to which poles have been attached, produces paintings that are reduced bare until they point beyond themselves. In Blue Glyph #1 (2011-12), four narrow painted elements are fastened into a rectangular window, each painted a monochromatic blue. An inserted pole hangs downwards, echoing the form of a street sign. The work Yellow Glyph #2 (2016-17) uses a similar format, colored instead with a richly saturated yellow. Despite hinting at the conventions of the monochrome and assembled canvases, the works unite themselves to form frames that privilege the wall behind, and the space underneath. In addition to this frame, their pose suggests signals designed for common usage, treating these glyphs as open messages that can be taken up and carried outwards