Material Reinvention: New Approaches to Abstraction
When the concept of abstraction exploded representation in the early 20th century, modern art was born. We’ve come a long way since then—through countless visual art movements—however, abstraction remains an ever-reimagined vehicle for creatives. In Artspace Warehouse’s “Transforming Boundaries,” four Los Angeles-based artists engage distinct facets of contemporary abstraction by employing an irreverent range of materials.
From afar, the hard lines of David Jang’s Formulating (2014) resemble a constructivist composition. A closer examination reveals that the geometric scheme has been achieved by piecing together found aluminum cans that have been stripped of their signifying colors or labels. By reconstituting and recontextualizing what he describes as “industrial and commercial cast-offs” (soda cans, foam cups, plastic water bottles), Jang references cyclical trends related to both contemporary art and commercial consumption.
Similarly, Deborah Lynn Irmas, Steven Michael O’Connor, and Raul de la Torre fuse traditional abstract forms with culturally charged materials and references. De la Torre’s poured compositions are achieved by layering countless skeins of string and acrylic paint. The vibrant, dripping stripes and pooling surfaces of works like FILS I COLORS 160 (2013) conjure a range of references from Color Field luminary Morris Louis to the textured, graffiti-laden walls of an urban metropolis. Irmas explores abstraction through shape and juxtapositions of color, while O’Connor develops networks of interlocking lines or thickly applied swathes of paint and latex. Though they run the gamut in terms of technique and material, the works in “Transforming Boundaries” share dynamic, spirited approaches to the endless possibilities that abstraction offers.
Alexxa Gotthardt is a contributing writer for Artsy.