Conversations Between Dallas and New York

Erin Cluley Gallery
Sep 21, 2015 3:47PM

Francisco Moreno's studio in Dallas, Texas. Image courtesy of the artist.

Two weeks have passed since artist Francisco Moreno executed his Washington Crossing the Delaware Project. Executed: carried out and sentenced to death. For the past three years, Moreno had been pumping every available resource into this behemoth of a project. A daily barrage of Instagram posts included engine revving, the guttural screeching of tires, and detailed shots of a massive abstract painting as if Rosenquist had passed Guernica through a shredder. 

WCD Project (Washington Crossing the Delaware), 2012-2015
Erin Cluley Gallery

A green screen colored warehouse was home to the painting, in oil propped on a freestanding support. Everything was in place and chronologically archived. The mo(u)rning after his debut at the first annual SOLUNA: International Music & Arts Festival, I pulled out my phone, saw Moreno’s Instagram, @morencisco, and watched three years of work condensed into a 4 minute performance, which was further condensed into a 15 second video. Soon after, I received a text with an image of a large canvas drop cloth covering the once tire screeching, doughnut spinning Datsun, that was now tucked away in a corner of his studio.  

SLATE: Unicorn Painting No. 2 (Anthony Giannini - Carrot Pink Prince), 2015
Erin Cluley Gallery

Since then, Moreno and I have been back and forth with texts, phone conversations, and emails about the artist’s content and studio prep for his first solo exhibition Slates with Erin Cluley Gallery. We share strategies about clearing the mind, the importance of removing the presence of the WCD Project from his studio, and unpacking his Painting Debt Series as framework for this Slates series. This rally between Dallas and New York is vital. Without it, self-doubt and self-sabotage creep in. We catch up during studio breaks or on our daily commutes. Tangents involve production costs, unicorn paintings, Kanye West, and studio sustainability (specifically in favor of Dallas and Detroit). It’s a combination of shoptalk and self-help. 

Anthony Giannini’s studio in Bronx, New York. Image courtesy of the artist.

Moreno’s studio is located in Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX. 1,558 miles to the East is my studio in the Bronx, NY. Moreno and I received our MFAs in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Since Moreno’s move back to Dallas, I’ve only experienced the last three years of his studio practice via text, phone, or social media. There is an unrelenting openness in Moreno’s digital presence. Before the debut of the WCD Project, Moreno dismantled his website’s archive and rerouted viewers to Instagram and Tumblr. This allowed him to show his audience where, when, and how the work was being produced- emphasizing the environment the work was made in. Now we are able to witness Moreno’s unyielding giddiness as his dip paintings begin to materialize. One fluent dip and months of work begin to appear on the surface. 

Francisco Moreno's studio. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Tumblr and Instagram have become Moreno’s hype man. It’s a topic we’ve argued for and against in the last three years. The upper right hand corner timestamp confirms his time on task (at least his posting). And yet, with all this, there are still missing sensory experiences. Texture, tactility, smell, depth, and proportion are all absent. Instagram has this ‘looking all the time’ quality to it- both high and low visual IQs leveled in Moreno’s visual curation. @morencisco serves as drawing board, archive and a viewer’s choice of sorts for his studio practice. Maybe Moreno’s unapologetic uploading is the new hanging of the work. 

Process, painting, Puck, progress- all become less intimidating, less separate.

SLATE: Radial Painting No. 1 (after Fontana), 2015
Erin Cluley Gallery

Moreno’s Slates series is not about miniscule variations in condition. He could have easily made 70 dip paintings, hard edge abstractions, or alebrije variants. Instead, Moreno leaps between perpendicular Pollock drips and beveled Richter-esque mirrors. Moreno’s work is not process void of content. It is a letting-in of theoretical and formal paradoxes around past and present discussions of painting and its various modes. All 70 pieces work through disparate ideas simultaneously, side by side, hung in a grid format.  As we experience the works, we fade from one style to another. Back in 2010 when I picked Moreno up from JFK, one of the few things he had brought with him was an 8 x 12 inch inkjet print of a unicorn painting he had recently finished in extra plastic-y, dust collecting impasto acrylic. It hung proudly above our toilet for two years. If the Slate series presents the artist’s work in chapters, here is its preface. 

Then comes the mechanical, the gestural, the everyday, the found object, and the icon. A reminiscence of zombie formalism possibly, until Moreno references his well-seasoned roster of artists in relationship to his methods and approach:

Susan Rothenberg/unicorn series

Daniel Buren/standardized corners

Brice Marden/wire constructions

Wilhelm Sasnal/Kanye West series

Charlotte Posenenske/pvc series

Ellsworth Kelly/when shape becomes image

Kazimir Malevich and Alexander Rodchenko/hard edge geometric series

Gerhard Richter/mirror series & Kanye West blur

Josh Smith/grid format

Francisco Moreno’s Instagram feed @morencisco.  

If Daniel Buren wanted to challenge the established methods and cultural problems of painting, and his response was to standardize his canvas works into an 8.7 centimeter width band of color, then Moreno uses a conventional 5.5 inch radius power cord reel to function as the basic curve dimension linking all seventy paintings. The counter of Buren’s Art Groupe BMPT and its collective opposition to painting as game becomes doctrine for Moreno’s Slate series:

Because painting is a game,

Because painting is the application (consciously or otherwise) of the rules of composition,

Because painting is the freezing of movement,

Because painting is the representation (or interpretation or appropriation or disputation or presentation) of objects,

Because painting is a springboard for imagination,

Because painting is spiritual illustration,

Because painting is justification,

Because painting serves an end

Because to paint is to give aesthetic value to flowers, women, eroticism, the daily environment, art, Dadaism, psychoanalysis and the war in Vietnam,

We are not painters.

[Manifesto, 3 January 1967, translated by Michel Claura in “Paris Commentary,” Studio International 177, no. 907 (January 1969): 47.]

With the Slates series it’s as if we see Moreno crossing out we are not painters and replacing it with:

Because to paint is to give aesthetic value to hard edge triangles, alebrije variants, mirrors, unicorns, wire hangers, radial lines, work tables, pvc pipes, studio remnants, patent drawings, social and political imagery, women, a lion, a shirt, a tree, a flower, a car, a star and Kanye West.  

- Anthony Giannini

Anthony Giannini (b. 1984) is an American artist who currently works in the Bronx, NY. He studied at Michigan State University in 2007 and received an MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Giannini’s work has been exhibited at Harmony Murphy Gallery, Los Angeles, LA; Walter Otero Contemporary Art, San Juan, PR; Oliver Francis Gallery, Dallas, TX; Pace Gallery, New York, NY; 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York, NY; The Bruce High Quality Foundation, New York, NY; The Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Providence, RI; Kresge Art Museum, East Lansing, MI; The Museum of New Art, Pontiac, MI; MAN Museum, Berlin, DE; Galerie Christian Hosp, Berlin, DE; Trailer Park Proyects, Rio Piedras, PR.

In 2013 Giannini was awarded the MacColl Johnson Fellowship from the Rhode Island Foundation. Giannini was also nominated for the 2013 College of Arts & Letters Distinguished Alumni Award through Michigan State University and has received grants and fellowships through the Joan Mitchell Foundation, The Roger and Gayle Mandle Foundation, Rhode Island School of Design and Michigan State University. Giannini has participated in several national and international artists residencies including Denniston Hill, Woodridge, NY; Contemporary Artists Center, Woodside, Troy, NY; Ox-Bow, Saugatuck, MI; Culturia Berlin, DE; Takt Kunstprojektraum, Berlin, DE.

Erin Cluley Gallery