The work in “Unburial Rites,” a new solo show at London’s Vigo Gallery, takes the idea of appropriation and allusiveness inward. In many of his paintings, Brock reworks the picture obsessively, developing and then removing their surfaces repeatedly until an image is conjured. Other works have included the shredded or ground remains of earlier paintings, re-applied to the canvas in a mélange of color and texture.
“This body of work is something I’ve been working on since 2010,” says Brock. “Essentially, these works are made by taking older paintings that are these gestural, grand abstractions and putting them through a series of rituals to deconstruct and physically destroy gestures in the painting.” Brock constructs his paintings by carefully painting them all over with gestural abstractions. He then removes much of the surface with a power sander, and proceeds to repeat the process of painting and removing. The end results, such as deredemibocwoirtdxi(mlfm,ijtg...) and deredemicrtdvi (both 2009–14) are complex and psychedelic, with diaphanous swirls of color across their entire surface. Such rich textures can take years to develop, as can be seen by the five-year-long period each painting was completed in.
Despite the dedication and care taken to make the works, Brock does allow for imperfections. They often sport holes that have been worn right through the canvas’s surface by the incessant abrasion. In his 2013–2014 paintings, deredemirtdvii(pfcso) and deredemirtdx(ffbsts), the canvas is shotgunned with small Lucio Fontana-like pits, allowing the viewer to see through the illusory surface. Brock has asserted an interest in both making an enchantingly tactile surface and in disenchanting the material processes one undertakes to create an artwork. Contrary to his forebears, Brock’s abstract expressionist-indebted paintings are the result of the erasure of his hand in the artwork, rather than its emphasis.
Another strain of Brock’s work is his recycled paintings. Reusing previous works in a manner not dissimilar from artists such as Joseph Montgomery and Michael Riedel, Brock constructs many of his paintings by reprocessing earlier works. This kind of remixing of the disparate images and materials created by one person is a perfect metaphor for Brock’s strange relationship to the present and past, constantly undoing and recreating.
“Unburial Rites” is on view at Vigo Gallery, London, Jan. 14–Feb. 11, 2015.