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.
One could ask what the purpose might be for covering up text that is motivational for the artist and might also be for the viewer. From the Buddhist perspective that Hitchcock espouses, every conscious act generates an indelible chain of cause and effect (Karma). So the artist who begins a piece by drawing the letter forms that compose a mantra has been changed by that set of actions. Her subsequent painting process that obscures the mantra translates and expands her work’s essential meaning, one expressive of her personal vision rendered in color and form; the universal language of art.
KARLOS CÁRCAMO 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 working space” a ground to explore his take on the history and future of abstract art.
Cárcamo 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. Cárcamo 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.