Adrian Tone’s “Shoeshine Punch” Shows Off His Fast-Paced Artistic Evolution

Though time is money, of the essence, and in short supply, it’s not usually the first thing you associate with an artist or artwork. Nevertheless, at Elizabeth Houston Gallery in New York, Adrian Tone’s new solo show revolves around time and offers ample evidence of the young painter’s accelerated evolution.

The exhibition’s title, “Shoeshine Punch,” references a boxing combination full of speedy punches, but it could also be a nod to the rate at which Tone knocks out his artwork. After a successful showing at the SCOPE Art Show in Miami, Tone was challenged by gallery owner Elizabeth Houston to fill a solo exhibition. The Romanian-born, Brooklyn-based artist immediately got to work: Every piece in the new show was completed over a three-month period.

While Tone has always worked quickly, his newer, smaller works incorporate a number of new processes, including spray paint and relief work. This much color is new, too: Tone’s previous paintings used pigment sporadically and leaned more toward washed and muted monotones, à la Christopher Wool.

Breaking from these self-imposed limitations, Tone’s work has grown organically. For this series, Tone paints with acrylic on watercolor paper, and the resulting surfaces look sticky and tactile (think: Steven Parrino).

These ghostly shapes and chemical combinations—iridescent pigment, ground-up rubber tires scattered like glitter—lead to unexpected textural shifts and dissolutions. This sparring with color, form, and text shows a nimble artist with remarkable range.


—Alex Allenchey


Adrian Tone: Shoeshine Punch” is on view at Elizabeth Houston Gallery, New York, Jan. 27–Apr. 3, 2016.

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