Opening soon at the University of Maryland's Herman Maril Gallery - an exhibition curated by ME! I am so thrilled to have a chance to exhibit all of this work in the same space. Steve, Lily, and Emily share a really unique way of working with the genre of painting and their work just begs to be shown together. It's going to be an incredible show!
check out my curatorial essay...
To be counter-something, at its simplest, is to be in opposition to something. The term suggests a degree of action taken. When one counters something (an idea, a bet, an offer), he does more than disagree, he responds.
This is an exhibition of paintings. And all three of the artists in this exhibition distinctly identify themselves as painters. Their varied approaches to painting, however, may come across as counter-conventional. When they’re taken off the wall, devoid of recognizable imagery, and at times lacking paint altogether… can we even call such objects paintings? In order to answer such a question, one must be able to define what a painting is at its core, at its roots, which is precisely what each of these artists ventures to do.
Stripped to its bare bones, a painting can be seen as merely a sum of its parts: wooden stretcher bars, raw canvas, and paint. Responding to this notion, artist Lily Kuonen combines these primary materials with tools of the studio, equalizing their purposes in attempts to blur categorical and hierarchical distinctions. She explains, “It is no longer how one material is on top of the other, but rather how each is related to the other.” Through the liberation of her materials, Lily has developed a playful and experimental approach to art making. Her “PLAYNTINGS,” as she calls them, are the result of this process.
In addition to some apparent formal similarities (such as the exposed raw canvases often situated on the floor), artist Emily Rodia’s approach to painting is similar to Kuonen’s in that she too allows her materials to inter-mingle in unexpected ways. Her paintings are striking in that they rarely include any paint at all. A self-proclaimed “home depot minimalist,” Rodia introduces non-art materials, such as concrete bricks and store-bought plants, to other more traditional painting materials, re-assessing their purposes and combining them to create works that address authorship and the evolution of time.
Though Evans applies paint to his canvases in a seemingly conventional manner (at least compared to Kuonen and Rodia), the type of paint he uses and the tools with which he applies it don’t come from an art supply store. Paint is rolled onto the canvas as house paint is rolled onto walls of a home. Wallpaper swatches, paint chips, and blue painter’s tape become elements for collage. Interestingly enough, Evans’ combination of traditional and non-traditional materials still refers to painting in some broad sense of the term.
References to building and construction are apparent in each of the chosen artists: Evans’ and Kuonen’s use of bright orange and pink, Rodia’s bricks. They all make efforts to break down the conventional material hierarchy and, through the shared language of painting, use their materials as building blocks for new constructs that explore the subject, the act, and the significance of making.
Sure, this is an exhibition of paintings, but these paintings are more than paintings because they are investigations into painting’s potential. They are “counterconstructs”… counter-convention, counter-tradition, but not rebellious in the least. They are optimistic constructs, responses to artistic inquiry. Counterconstructs: Modes of Painting.