There is tension in the air at Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Opposites like opacity and translucency, and surface and depth, and the oftentimes cantankerous history of abstraction itself, are mashed-up, re-mixed, and otherwise thrown delightfully out-of-whack in the concurrent exhibitions, “Chris Trueman: Beneath the Skin” and “Mark Harrington: Broken – Ground.”
Chris Trueman is a maximalist. In his exuberant, large-scale paintings, he encompasses the entire history of abstraction, merging Color Field Painting, Abstract Expressionism, and Hard-Edged Geometry in his allover compositions. Intermingling passages of pixilation and color gradation based on computer graphics, his acrylic-on-canvas works seem to be formed of layered scrims. He often begins Abstract Expressionist-style, with bold, lush brushstrokes and generous smears of pigment. Onto this ground he overlays stripes and undulating lines recalling Op Art illusions and screen savers. These run up against sections of saturated color and the drips that became so synonymous with Jackson Pollock.
If Trueman focuses on the clashing intersections of various strands of abstraction, Mark Harrington, more of a minimalist, explores the overlap between painting and sculpture in his acrylic-on-linen compositions. In the mid- to large-scale works on view, he strips art down to its essence, which he describes as: “No narrative. No symbolism. No reference. No representation.” He is, in other words, interested in the purely physical qualities of paint on canvas, which, in his hands, appears as fat, variously textured horizontal bands.
Harrington’s works resemble distressed wood, birch bark, or Gerhard Richter’s squeegee paintings. To make them, he ices his canvases with an impasto layer of pigment, then scrapes away portions with tools he makes himself, creating bands alternating between opacity and translucency. Each work has its own, internal visual logic, premised on the surprising plasticity of the seemingly immaterial phenomena of light, space, shallowness, and depth.