OPENING DATE SEPT 4TH
ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER
Greg Slick’s hard edge abstractions are very much works of our time, but the roots of the imagery he uses burrow deep into history. The geometric patterns, which play an important role in his recent paintings, reference the stone carvings found on ritual objects from 6000 years ago. Those patterns may have been developed by our ancestors in response to hallucinations experienced in rituals involving psychoactive drugs and those same patterns have been proven in scientific tests to be fundamental components of our contemporary psyches. Slick is also fascinated by the monumental land art made by ancient peoples and this is reflected in his compositions. Forms seem to build from the bottom of his paintings to the top (though actually painted from the top down) creating the illusion of imposing scale.
The swooshing forms near the base of these works are evocations of Sumi-E ink drawings that the artist learned to make under the tutelage of a master several years ago. Making these gestural marks is a personal ritual focusing his mind as he begins a new work. He reports that doing this induces a kind of altered state.
Slick’s takeaway is that Art is a social act and is a fundamental human activity. He points out that instances of human art making go back at least 50,000 years and that over the course of history humanity has integrated art into the development of culture in many ways. Today we tend to be out of touch with the deeper aspects of what we do. As we go to a gallery or museum what is the nature of our involvement? Do we see art as decoration, a pleasant thing to take in on a free afternoon, an opportunity for financial investment, or is it an essential aspect of the process of knowing who we are?
MARIEKEN COCHIUS was born and raised in the Netherlands. Cochius emigrated to the U.S. in the 1990s. Her work is continually evolving formally while consistently and skillfully expressing a passion for the beauty, mystery, and meaningfulness of the natural world. A visit to her website will reveal many variations on the art of abstraction in media that include oil painting, sculpture, and works on paper. There is nevertheless a consistency in her visual language that runs through its many dialects. She’s after a certain kind of energy that can’t be easily captured and held; it can only be experienced and communicated directly. The pieces in this show are records of awakening realized over time and can be seen as a call to the viewer to share a revelatory experience.
It is interesting to note that Cochius was trained as a photographer and that she still photographs most days though she does not use her photographs as reference for her work. Photography has taught her how to look attentively, to see clearly– seeing is a learned experience. She brings the same level of paying concentrated but open-minded attention to the observation of the flow of ink she directs over the surface of the moistened paper mounted on her angled easel as the drawing she is making unfolds. Her vision simultaneously embraces the micro and the macro. As the layers of her works on paper accumulate, fractalized visual events emerge, each of equal importance to the work overall. A tapestry of these visual moments gradually weaves itself together into a whole. Without specific identifiable imagery to grasp onto Cochius invites us to join in the conscious emergence of the cosmos.
MATTHEW LANGLEY Nothing is hidden beneath layers of paint in Langley’s work. A Washington D.C. native and a student of Washington Color School artist Gene Davis, Langley states that he “aggressively avoided” the urge to be influenced by the painting styles of the Color School artists for many years. In 2015 or thereabouts that changed, as Langley could no longer “deny his true self ” and paintings with some similarities to the Washington Color School “avalanched” out of him. It was a “big boom,” a burst of energy that has inspired him from that point on.
His circle paintings, exhibited in this show, are a recent iteration of this creative tsunami but share basic characteristics with his vertical stripe abstractions. Pure, non-referential geometry is one.
Langley works improvisationally: acrylic on canvas, wet on wet. He jumps in with no preproduction sketches, mostly using stainer brushes, freehand; no taping is involved. Though well versed in color theory, he leaves that behind, working intuitively. One color leads to another. With the circle paintings, it works by the end of the day or it’s painted over. He says, “If you’re not exploring in the studio, what’s the point.” He notes that working with reductive abstraction, people are always seeing things in his paintings that are not there. The painting is the painting he insists. Let it be.
Raised in a Evangelical Christian family. Hitchcock’s development as an artist has been shaped by her search for a wider, more inclusive understanding of spirituality. Words have been central to her process and she has used them in various evocative ways. She has collaged typewritten repetition of a single word to evoke the spell of a chanted mantra. She has combined one tradition’s text with the language of another tradition to suggest a congruence of their essential meanings. She has also used abstract painted elements in combination with text creating a dialogue between the verbal and the non-verbal. Her most recent work uses mantras and song lyrics to create templates for stenciled abstract forms that she then uses to paint patterns, which ultimately hide the underlying text. Great care, precision, and inventiveness are characteristic of all that she produces.