Reception: Friday, July 31st, 7pm
July 31 – August 20, 2015
Art Placement is pleased to present the exhibition, "Abject Abstract", showcasing a new generation of Saskatoon artists working in the expanded field of abstract painting.
Abstraction has been one of the primary narratives in Western art for more
than a century. With a recent resurgence in popularity, its visibility has spiked,
from magazine covers and RBC’s annual painting competition to Painter
Painter at the Walker in 2013 and last year’s The Forever Now
at MOMA, the venerable institution’s first survey of contemporary abstraction
in decades. Saskatchewan has its own legacy of abstraction that is both long
and contentious, a microcosm of shifts in the larger art world, inflected by
the specifics of this place. In the current, technologically connected context,
however, the progressive conception of history has all but collapsed and abstraction
circulates widely in the anything-and-everything-goes arena of contemporary
painting. Moving the conversation to a local scale, Abject Abstract
brings together four emerging, Saskatoon-based artists, who explore abstraction
from a variety of perspectives: from messy, gestural and bodily to meditative,
minimal and analytical.
Allysha Larsen’s carefully considered paintings on canvas, paper and plaster balance order and chaos. Organic, gestural washes and scrubbed surfaces interact with precisely placed shapes and sweeping brushstrokes to produce a harmonious equilibrium. Quiet and contemplative, each work feels as though it was created in collaboration with the materials. Larsen allows rich, black ink to flow, drip and bleed across the surface, then proceeds to responsively add and subtract additional contrasting and complementary elements. Her hand is ever-present in this balancing act; working with chance, but never leaving anything to it.
David Stonhouse’s varied explorations synthesize many disparate threads ranging from the aesthetics of the grotesque to plays on the illusion of deep space within a two dimensional surface. As in the past, recent work continues to be inspired by textiles and pattern. His all-over compositions allude to certain aspects of abstract expressionism combined with a cool, pop slant and playful, unexpected counterpoints. In addition to his varied source material, Stonhouse’s works also bring together a diverse range of media, further enhancing the richness of his explorations.
Jon Vaughn is another artist who brings a wild and diverse range of subjects and sources of inspiration to his paintings. 1980s pop culture mingles with retro sci-fi and comic gore in works that are curiously beautiful. Line is a predominant element--an intuitive, searching line in which the artist’s hand and eye feel uniquely united, a kind of thinking-through-drawing. A noted electronic musician, Vaughn’s collage style often has the precision and range of digital art, at times reminiscent of early 3-D graphics and computer-generated gradients, while also maintaining a hand-made quality.
Levi Nicholat’s paintings sit between abstraction and representation. Through successive, responsive revisions, recognizable figurative subjects are reconfigured into abstract, architectonic compositions that retain only the faintest sense of where and what they came from. Process determines the final outcome and destruction is utilized as a generative strategy. A little messy and casually abstract, each painting presents an unexpected sense of space within.