Posts Tagged 'Abstraction'

Mayen Alcantara – Studio Visit – November 2nd, 2011

Studio Visit: Mayen Alcantara
Date: Wednesday, November 2nd
Location: Bushwick, NY

Collapsing Agreements in Disputed Territories paper on panel 2011

Image: MidPhenomena: Northern Lights (Arctic Ocean), 2011, paper, 23 X 54 inches

“My work reflects the distortions that occur when a range of pressures force a formalization of long established traditions or informal agreements.  I am drawn to the exaggerations and compromises that are devised to fit non-compatible loose volumes into rigid paradigms that, though generally logical, often generate disorienting results.”
Studio Visit Synopsis:
Mayen AlcantaraInitially to many of the studio visitors, Mayen Alcantara’s new color paper collages read at first as purely abstract compositions. Upon closer inspection, in fact, they refer to landscapes, places in transition that have been transformed through human impact. Mayen is however not engaged in representing direct images of trees, clouds or buildings but is instead interested in nature as phenomena. Mayen refers to all of the collage work currently in her studio as drawings.In two of her drawings, the composition is divided using pieces of paper forming a grid with the upper images reflecting the lower panels. These pieces are translated from source imagery relating to acts of nature: the Aurora Borealis over Michigan and an image taken before the impact of hurricane Irene in Vermont.Two of the other works relate to the effects of human action on the landscape and borrow from satellite images of the compounds of Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi. These drawings titled Collapsing Agreements In Disputed Territories differ from the other works in the angular shapes of cut paper used and the type of focal, centralized satellite derived composition used.The aim of the background surfaces, board and sketch book sized paper, which contain the collage images were a topic of contention in the discussion. While some participants found the panel and paper framed the collages  successful, others questioned the necessity of a bounding box in favor of the bare wall as the background surface.

Mayen’s past work has included large-scale installations incorporating wood and paper structures. Present in the studio were several older pieces, geometrically constructed paper relief pieces mounted to the wall. These pieces incorporate different types of paper and mark making absent from the more recent collage drawings and seem to more directly reference the language of topography and maps. Some studio visitors felt that the bas-relief sentiment and construction could be utilized to inform the new collage work.

The group discussed whether a reading of the work beyond an aesthetic, compositional understanding is readily available to the viewer without background information or title. In Mayen’s case, titles help to provide a window into the content of her source materials. What is the necessity of knowing about the source material or background information in order to understand or appreciate a work?

– Amanda Lechner


Julie Mehretu
Ink Blot
Cabinet: The Paper Sculpture Book and Show


Vince Contarino – Studio Visit – June 28th, 2011

Studio Visit: Vince Contarino
Date: Tuesday June 28th
Location: Marie Walsh Sharpe Studios – DUMBO, Brooklyn

Vince Contarino

Split Decision, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 40" x 34"

Studio Visit Synopsis:

Vince Contarino started his studio visit by introducing a drawing project started about a year ago, before he moved into his current studio in the Marie Walsh Sharpe Space program. The project, a collection of small paintings, drawings, works on paper, exists in tandem with photographs and other ephemera produced and collected by Vince. A black shrine of sorts, this intuitively assembled drawing project gives off a film noir-like feeling of gesture. While paralleling and informing the body of work created upon moving into the Sharpe Studio it has thus far remained separate.

Vince is not the kind of abstractionist that takes recognizable images and objects and makes them unrecognizable, but he is not pulling from chaos either. He instead, through a discerning eye, identifies shapes, colors and marks that he then pulls into the work. Thinking of gestures as objects, Vince refers to his painting process as “building a painting”. During his residency at the Marie Walsh Sharpe he has taken the opportunity to vary strategies for making his paintings, challenging size and mark making, and testing the parameters necessary for a painting to “hold the wall”.

Vince states that he does not wish to fetishize paint or to create a “perfect” surface but that his work is should be a dance between gesture and hard edge utilitarian marks.

The discussion on mark making led to a conversation about whether Vince’s marks act as quotes or as “ideas of a gesture”, whether they are a depiction or a demonstration.

For Vince abstraction is based on faith, not in a religious or spiritual sense but as belief in a language and trust in a process.

Abstraction is often an activity of isolation. In the case of Vince Contarino’s practice, he challenges this notion by active engaging the outside world with other artists and through writing and blogging. He is involved in Progress Report and KCLOG blogs and recently co-curated The Working Title, a group exhibition at the Bronx River Art Center.

-Amanda Lechner

Discussion Links:

David Reed

Map of Metal

Article : The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism

Quote below from Howard Hurst’s interview on March 21st, 2011-

“Vince Contarino is a New York based painter. His multi-layered canvasses explore the language of abstraction. From first glance there is something illusive in Contarino’s canvases, a tension between the forthright and the concealed. The artist often repurposes forgotten brushstrokes and colors, pasting them into his collages and works on paper. The result is something both beautiful and challenging, a floating soup of the painterly. Contarino’s belief in the ongoing relevance of abstraction is mirrored in his extracurricular activities.”

To read the full interview click on the link below.

Rebecca Sherman – Studio Visit – September 21st, 2010

Studio Fuse is pleased to present a studio visit with Rebecca Sherman Wednesday, September 21st in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

In her current practice, Rebecca Sherman combines traditional materials and drawing techniques with digital manipulation of photographs. Most of her imagery is based in architectural abstraction with a photographic impetus. During her studio visit she presented watercolor drawings, digital drawings printed on translucent vellum and a series of oil paintings on canvas. The imagery in the oil paintings led to her more current drawing and print work. The group examined the color palette, shapes and line quality that both carry-over and differ from aspects in the oil paintings. Some of the drawings in the studio seemed to lend themselves to further investigation and experimentation in scale and materials.

Last year Rebecca was involved in a collaborative project that culminated in a temporary spatial installation comprised of paper and painted elements. The group discussed how she translated her drawing language in a new scale and dimension and how this experiment and other possible presentation methods may affect her continuing practice especially in her digital print and drawing work.

Much of Rebecca’s work is not only inspired by architecture and buildings, but also by music. Many of the painting and drawing titles site specific songs. The group considered whether the visual interpretation of the emotive qualities are discernible to the audience or seem incidental.

During the studio visit the group discussed the challenges of producing a well-crafted artist statement and how disconnected the process can be with the everyday studio practice. Where is the boundary between informative and audacious or between concise and evasive?

Outside of her regular studio practice Rebecca has also produced a line of hand-made and recycled garments and accessories under the moniker Bheki. The methods used to create these pieces involve experimentation and attitude, and while differing considerably from the studio work, these methods could positively influence Rebecca’s future painting and drawing work.

-Amanda Lechner

Discussion Links:

Ingrid Calame

Thomas Demand

Kristin Baker

Jack Goldstein


Build it Green – Recycled Materials Salvage

Andrew Prayzner – Studio Visit – April 13th, 2010

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.

James Huang, Andrew Prayzner

Rachel Frank, Ryan Russo, Dustin Dennis


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.

-Amanda Lechner


Peter Halley-The Crisis in Geometry

Gerhard Richter

David Salle

Ziad Naccache -Studio Visit

Ziad Naccache – December 7th,2009 (Greenpoint)

Ziad Naccache

Kris Chatterson, Beth Cooper

Brian Zegeer, Kris Chatterson

Amanda Lechner


“Are you minimalist or are you funky?

Ziad Naccache’s current group of paintings occupy a curious area between structural minimal abstraction and emoticon signage. The size and vertical format of these paintings is that of portraiture, but the scale of the geometric faces proportionally large enough to slightly dwarf the viewer and nearly touch the edges of the canvases. Participants in the discussion debated whether this scale is aggressively confrontational or if the paintings are humorously humanized in their historical, color and emotional content. This body of paintings employs the full color wheel and black; the group discussed whether this aspect promotes the pieces being tasteful, decorative, gauche or diffident. Participants reacted to the connection/disconnect between the emotional, abstract and color elements in the paintings and how these relationships play out in Ziad’s drawings and supporting ephemera on the adjacent walls.

Amanda Lechner

Discussion Links:


Matt Mullican signs

Zach Needler

Cory Archangel

Paper Rad

Beatriz Milhazes

Stephen Westfall

Meghan Petras Studio Visit September 16th 2009

Meghan Petras (website)

Grace Teng

The conversation with Meghan Petras took place at a space in Chelsea where she recently hung a small solo show. All of the works were part of a body of work created within the course of a few weeks keeping in mind the space in which they would be exhibited. The works in the exhibition were chosen from a larger group of small oil paintings connected by the time frame in which they were made, their media and subject matter. Meghan described this group of paintings as a reaction to periphery subject matter and related them to human interactions with nature. Many of the works were referential, with each ruminating on different flora and fauna while experimenting with the medium of oil paint.

Looking at a diptych of puppies wearing top hats and a flattened plane of roses sketched radially, the group discussed kitsch in relation to the imagery, invention, and handling of materials within the paintings. The point at which the work transcends kitsch and where it butts heads with taste was an area of contention within the group conversation.  Whether the most abstract or non-referential piece in the show was out of place or whether it held the other work together was also debated.

Though she has been making 2-D images for the past few years, Meghan’s background and training is in sculpture. We discussed the difference between practices and the challenges of painting from a sculptural stand-point.

-Amanda Lechner

Grants & Fellowships Calendar

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