Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Landslides Never Looked So Good

"Doxology" 2007 Oil on wood

Saturday morning I went to hear NYC painter Leslie Wayne give a talk about her new show "No Going Back" which opened a Solomon Projects the previous night.

"Doxology" detail

During my first look at the paintings, I couldn't get past the incredible manipulation of materials, the luscious tactile quality of the paintings, and assumed this artists was a sculptor exploring the possibilities of building up oil paint three dimensionally.

"One Big Love #11" 2007 Oil on wood

Luckily I went to the artists talk because I was only seeing the tip of the iceberg (or the crumbling antarctic as it were).

Nancy Solomon (right) introduced the very friendly Wayne, who was full of insight into the process and concepts of her paintings, giving an excellent walk-through of the show.

"Unseasonable" 2007 Oil on wood

And Wayne is not a sculptor, but a painter very interested in the mighty gesture of abstract expressionism along with the tradition of landscape painting and environmental issues. I think if someone told me this description I would have envisioned the most mundane, overly done, hotel lobby adorning, paintings - which is exactly what Wayne's paintings are not. They are the perfect balance between the stretching of the paint medium and the capturing of beauty and anxiety surrounding the state of our environment.

"Unseasonable" Detail

Check out this building up of paint. Just looking at it makes my hands twitch like they are covered in a marshmellowy goo. Wayne's paintings take up to a year to create, slowly adding layers of oil paint and then scraping them down the panel surface as they dry.

"Exquisite Corpse" 2006 Oil on wood

What is so great about these paintings is that Wayne manages to use process and material to generate a sensory response in the viewer to this illusion of terrain, using the physicality of paint to accentuate the subject matter of the work. In "Exquisite Corpse" Wayne described the bunched paint at the bottom as "detritus on the ocean floor."

"Kind of Blue" 2006 Oil on wood

In "Kind of Blue" Wayne references Elizabeth Murray's "Kind of Blue" (which was her first shaped canvas painting.)

"Kind of Blue" detail

Wayne sees the layers as a "history" of her own work, many pieces of the rumpled paint were actually discarded from other paintings and saved, some up to fifteen years, before being collaged into a new painting. This layering could also be read as a geological plug or core sample, showing the layers and history of the planet.

"Before the Quake" 2006 Oil on wood

Wayne said she wanted to approach landscapes "head on," creating "temporal imagery - Not images of landscapes but actual landscapes. Being in nature instead of looking at nature. Making time stand still." And through her use of color and composition hints at a devastated, melting, toxic land that is still sublimely beautiful.

"Before the Quake" Detail

Look at the crazy layers.

"Before the Quake" Detail

I could photograph these all day.

"Before the Quake" Detail

It's like a geological survey of a painting. Like if you could have a excavation site on the surface of a Dekooning, this may be what you dig up, if you're lucky.

Ferrydoon was in attendance as well. We got into a interesting discussion about artist statements (which I had just been thinking about having gone to John Otte's opening the night before where he had chosen not to write one) and to what level artist should be held accountable for what they say/write about their work. Ferrydoon doesn't like the idea of people (critics) using the statement as a way to invalidate the art or deem it unsuccessful. Perhaps the artist is simply bad at explaining themselves and the art should be left to do the talking. Something to chew on...

I declare this show a must-see! Give your eyes a treat. You've got until February 29th, 2008.


Jeremy said...

Wow. That's some quality work.

Anonymous said...

un-freakin-believable. I love it! Thanks for doing this blog, btw, its great!

jen said...

delicious paintings. wish i could eat - i mean, see them in person.