California Cool: The Sculptural Paintings of 89-Year-Old Ed Moses

Moses’s works are frequently framed by two metal pipes running vertically along the edges of the paintings. They are attached to the back with brackets, are often partially painted, and occasionally include a chain that runs across the surface of the painting, linking them. In Stares Dwn (2015), a funky grayscale surface has been marked with repeating black and red circles, erratic hash marks, and multicolored plus signs. Two shelf-like, horizontal appendages have been attached to the painting’s face; the bottom one is bin-like and holds paint-caked stir sticks in bright colors. A thin chain droops from left railing, across the top assemblage, down to the bottom one, back up and finally to the rail on the right. By employing these appendages, Moses undermines the flatness one typically assumes of painting. Aleff (2015) also contrasts the industrial nature of a chain against Moses’s exuberant, gestural brushstrokes.
The work Extrud (2015) combines order with mania, in a surface bounded by grid-like marks that are filled with broad splatters, drips, and dots of bright, colorful paint. “I’m an abstract painter,” Moses has said. “I don’t know what my paintings are. I move around; I’m an explorer.” That desire to work in an active manner resembles the practices of the . Moses is not an Abstract Expressionist, though. His strange, playful paintings look past that era and into the present day. In their explorations, they become strange, forward-looking, and visually intriguing combinations of material and color.
—Stephen Dillon

Ed Moses: Now and Then” is on view at William Turner, Santa Monica, June 6 – Aug. 15, 2015.