One has only to mention the double sense of tradition that obsesses our modernist experimenters, the makers of the modern Image...to make it new means in one sense to supplement the tradition, to add something to an already completed whole; but it also means to repeat the moment of some pure origin that has been obscured by historys lengthened shadow, and hence to rewrite the whole. Joseph Riddel
Three Specific Works is an exhibition of paintings that thinks through Figuration and Abstraction, two historically opposed yet fundamental discourses, in order to illuminate both their dependency on and exchangeability with one another. By interweaving them, attention is redirected to concepts that speak to form but deflect the use of formal analysis alone as tools for representation. For example, the concept of the trace can be seen in the marks left behind on the surfaces of objects that have been handled repetitively. Whereas the sign is deployed as a surfaceless, objectless element that continues to productively obfuscate identity. Thus alternatively cultivating methods of reading a mark, image, or object as a mirroring agent of ways in which we occupy space. The paintings work to explicate the languid character of the body when confronted by particular circumstances including that of weight, history, and death that occur in the event of action, when one attempts to explore new terrain. Only, far from feeding into tiresome notions of failure and limitation, the paintings here pursue an engagement with the possibilities that open at the breach of ones capabilities. They consider the very moment when the body forgoes control and accepts the weight of exterior forces.
The three historical figures cited in the exhibition, Yves Kline, Bruce Nauman, and Edouard Manet, operate as loose knots for locating each paintings center or concern. They are not intended as subjects for criticism, commentary, elaboration, or appropriation. Rather, each historical referent here is meant as a filter through which to derail conjectures and elicit a nexus of ontological investigations within both individual paintings, as well as the installation at large. The surface of a scratched and stained Home Depot carrying cart, a tattered walking cane, and a scuba diver down emblem simultaneously become the proponents of a parallax view of the all-to-often demarcated histories of Figuration and Abstraction, Formal and Conceptual, Literal and Pictorial. Some of Abstractions familiar formal tropes of flatness, separate and pure geometric color planes, and pulled paint that are deployed here are to be read as less a way to perpetuate the delusion that one can continue to produce Abstract paintings, and more a strategy by which to paint Abstractly. Figuration here is at the service of theoretical concepts while Abstraction is at the service of Figuration. In this way the paintings capitalize on the fecundity of Abstraction, relying on it as still an original language with which to depict the liminal and fleeting qualities that compose aspects of being.