Studio Visit – Andrew Prayzner – April 13th, 2010 Williamsburg/Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY
Studio Fuse is pleased to announce a group visit and discussion with artist Andrew Prayzner.
Artist statement for the works discussed:
The images in this series are from a National Geographic article that chronicles the Colombian drug trade in the 1980s. Dozens of anonymous mules are posted on a corkboard, though there is a strange continuity to their poses and smuggling apparatuses. The interest for me in these pictures is the synthesis of a kind of vulnerable figurative narrative with the cocoon-like structures that cling to their hosts. The pixilated faces, while there to presumably protect the subjects’ identity, introduce a moment where individual features are sublimated by technological geometry. As stated in Peter Halley’s The Crisis in Geometry, “geometry (once) provided a sign of stability, order, and proportion, today it offers an array of shifting signifiers and images of confinement and deterrence.” Here the geometric form additionally operates as a representation of a postmodern power structure as demonstrated in contemporary architecture, technology, and aesthetics.
During his studio visit Andrew Prayzner did not display the images from a National Geographic photo essay on Colombian drug trafficking that he used as source imagery in his recent body of paintings. By way of the several levels of removal from the original situations of detainment and search, the paintings appear here as simplified vignettes of figures in institutional spaces. Abstraction is utilized in a few different ways within the paintings. Andrew’s decisions and compromises break down, simplify and feature the shapes and colors in images where the format and palette is determined by artifacts in the original printed matter. Abstraction is also employed as a condition of the source material; the use of the digital grid obscures the face of each figure.
The group examined the artist’s place in the geometric imposition that dissembles the identities of the figures. Does the artist advocate for detainee rights, maintain a neutral stance on oppressive geometries or become implicated in the systematic violence perpetrated by organized crime and the US government against non-citizens? The group also considered the role and responsibilities of the viewers as image consumers.
Throughout the studio visit the group attempted to gauge the readability of meaning within the paintings if divorced from their backstory and source material. When the paintings are viewed autonomously the abstraction of the background, the pixilation and the stances of the figures may fluctuate in apparent meaning and emphasis. In this narratively structured abstraction Andrew faces a difficult freedom in the exploration of abstract ambiguity while keeping a fidelity to his photographic source.
The conversation on abstraction led to comparisons with other artists that have employed the appearance of digital abstraction to different outcomes in painting and the current prevalence of digital iconography and artifice in all genres of art work. It was mentioned that the visual abstraction employed by each generation may be tied specifically to the visual technology and the appearance of technological artifice of the time. The group talked about the current gradual movement towards digital modes of image making, conveying and viewing as it may relate to the analog languages of past decades.
Peter Halley-The Crisis in Geometry