KARLOS CARCAMO brings a former graffiti artist’s perspective to the art of abstraction. That said, he is not interested in overtly referencing his street cred in his recent paintings, examples of which are on view in this show. Tagging is still a component of his overall process but is erased as part of the preparatory procedures before the actual painting begins. The tag KASE (the tag of a famous graffiti writer) is sprayed on a canvas and then removed leaving behind what the artist calls “a weird surface, an interesting pictorial space,” a ground to explore his take on the history and future of abstract art.
Carcamo engages his past on a conceptual level. He analyzes the history of abstraction through the lens of hip hop methodology: how the “break,” the musical sample that is the foundation of a hip hop piece, relates to the “monochrome” which he sees as the “break” in the history of modern art. His take is that over time reductionism inevitably gave way to an explosion. “Now everything is all over the place. Left with the residue of modernism, what am I going to do with it?”
His answer is to build paintings with a hip hop methodology rather than paint them with hip hop cultural references. Eschewing high art materials he employs industrial paint, spray paint, cardboard for blotting, even paint scrapings from his studio floor which he carefully arranges and adheres to paintings’ surfaces adding a new slant to the idea of the readymade. But this is not an ironic body of work. Carcamo has a painting on his studio wall that he’s been working on for two years. Even his plywood frames are carefully considered and inscribed in the back with his signature insuring that they will never be separated from the painting. In his view, a painting is not done until it stands on it’s own, irreducible to an idea of anything outside of its own actuality.