"Splotch," Lesley Heller Workspace, 2016
Splotch, a two-venue exhibition on the Lower East Side, featured artists whose work involves a methodical and controlled process of creating seemingly free-form or random daubs and spots. The title of the show was inspired by Sol LeWitt’s fiberglass pieces titled Splotches and their working drawings or “footprints.” The footprints of Splotch #3 were exhibited for the first time at Lesley Heller Workspace. LeWitt’s 12-foot long sculpture Splotch #3, previously shown at New York’s The Met, was on view at Sperone Westwater.
Splotch at Lesley Heller Workspace featured works by Lynda Benglis, Walter Biggs, Elisabeth Condon, Nene Humphrey, Andreas Kocks, Sol LeWitt, Riad Miah, Jamie Powell, Taney Roniger, Karen Tompkins, Julia von Eichel, Aaron Williams, Magdalen Wong, and Jian-Jun Zhang.
The artists’ approaches are structured, yet left up to elements of chance and failure in the drawings, paintings, photographs, prints, and sculptures in the show. Some of the artistic processes include casting, cutting, and wrapping. Lynda Benglis continues to focus on the physicality of materials in Hot Spot, 1999, a biomorphic form cast in aluminum. Combining elements of drawing, painting, and architecture, Andreas Kocks utilizes cut paper and pins to create works that examine space and time. Meticulous and methodical, Julia von Eichel simultaneously embraces and conceals the underlying structure of wood dowels, wiffle balls, and thread with acrylic covered silk in her amorphous and jagged sculpture protruding from a corner.
Inspired by pop culture and cartoons, Jamie Powell’s paintings incorporate elements of chance and improvisation as she manipulates the canvas by dyeing, cutting, and tying pieces to create sculptural forms, revealing the underlying frame. Magdalen Wong appropriates found imagery in mass media and commercial packaging; familiar objects are decontextualized and abstracted in her cutout milk splashes. Carving into a painted MDF surface with a router, Aaron Williams recreates graffiti imagery in photographic sources, expanding the idea of mark marking and materials.
Using patterns and precise puncturing, Taney Roniger creates biomorphic and cellular-like forms, referencing landscapes, mythology, and geometric shapes found in nature. Walter Biggs’s abstract paintings of graphite, sand, and acrylic are the results of play between expressionist gesture and labor-intensive finishing processes.
Materials can ultimately dictate the outcome when they are released onto surfaces – the results can be unexpected and spontaneous. In his monoprint First Drop of Water (print series #1), Jian-Jun Zhang explores the physicality and connotations of water. He paints printing ink directly onto steel plates with calligraphy brushes before printing these gestural marks. Inspired by nature and her time in Shanghai, Elisabeth Condon begins with a pour of paint and then edits the surface by outlining dots, manipulating contours, and slicing paint.
Riad Miah combines a calculated approach of using drops of paint, geometric configurations, and spontaneous brush marks to create his abstract painting that depict cellular and amoeba-like forms. Nene Humphrey also explores biological systems in her sculptural and performative works consisting of two and three-dimensional cerebral and cellular forms of synthetic material. Influenced by the solar observations of the Italian astronomer, physicist, and philosopher Galileo Galilei in the early 17th century, Karen Tompkins creates abstracted paintings on insulation board that closely resemble these sunspot drawings.
With predetermined and self-imposed rules, these artists explore the boundaries of various mediums as well as the tension between control and spontaneity. They also examine the body, scientific and mathematical concepts, nature, pop culture, and mass media. Dichotomies examined include: absence and presence, fluidity and stability, geometric and organic, order and disorder.
An opening reception took place at Lesley Heller Workspace on July 20 from 6-8 pm. Splotch was also on view at Sperone Westwater at 257 Bowery from July 7 to August 9, 2016. A catalogue, published on the occasion of the exhibition, is available.
Installation views are courtesy Lesley Heller Workspace, New York. Photo: Peter Gynd. All artworks are copyright of the artist or artist's estate. Lynda Benglis: Art © Lynda Benglis/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY. Sol LeWitt: © 2016 The LeWitt Estate / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Clockwise from left: Julia von Eichel, Aaron Williams, Nene Humphrey, Taney Roniger, Andreas Kocks, Walter Biggs
Clockwise from left: Andreas Kocks, Walter Biggs, Elisabeth Condon
Clockwise from left: Sol LeWitt, Lynda Benglis, Magdalen Wong, Aaron Williams
Clockwise from left: Taney Roniger, Andreas Kocks, Walter Biggs, Jamie Powell
Clockwise from left: Jian-Jun Zhang and Magdalen Wong
Clockwise from left: Nene Humphrey, Riad Miah, Andreas Kocks, Karen Tompkins
Clockwise from left: Nene Humphrey, Jamie Powell, Riad Miah
Clockwise from left: Jian-Jun Zhang, Magdalen Wong, Nene Humphrey, Jamie Powell