CITY: Surface and Texture

Young & Starving
Dec 10, 2013 6:08PM

CITY: Surface and Texture

December 16, 2013 through January 5, 2014

William Buchina, Lorenzo Bueno, Jason Alexander Byers, Alexis Dahan, Henry Levy, Russell Perkins, Julian Wellisz

Curated by Y&S.

NEW YORK- Artists migrate toward cities. They look toward the city environment for inspiration, knowledge, dialogue and experiment. CITY: Surface and Texture explores the work of seven young artists that are using the city as material and source.

Jason Alexander Byers paintings use tar on paper to portray the landscape of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The only surviving element from the original cityscape after Byers’ intervention is a thick white line representing the actual skyline. Both the sky and the city have become black tar impasto. With a similar interest in the city’s architecture, Alexis Dahan created two site-specific flat sculptures that represent the shape of the sky right above the gallery building. This work likewise bridges the photographic with the painterly, in specifically toying with the procedure of perspective control, by correcting a distorted view for a more legible, geometric construction that may or may not be the way the site physically appears. 

Dahan’s second seriesof site-specific work echoes Duchamp’s investigation of chance in 3 Standard Stoppages, 1913-1914. Dahan placed four sheets of paper covered with carbon paper steps away from the gallery entrance and people unintentionally walked over them, thus allowing chance to dictate which patterns reveal themselves in shoe choice, size and weight.

Shifting to the ground of the city, Lorenzo Bueno's work on canvas presents stains, moisture and materials found on the streets of Manhattan. Bueno loosely mounts the canvas on stretchers, thus conserving the organic and chaotic quality of his materials. Bueno’s portfolio of Bus Map Drawings are a series of print outs of Brooklyn’s bus maps where he has deleted the stop names and text, leaving only a black line of reference to the buses’ journey. Similarly, Henry Levy collected different objects such as text, wooden board and a dog bowl. He found them nearby his studio in Mexico City back in 2003 and assembled them into a sculptural collage that emphasizes a rawer aspect of the city surface.

Russell Perkins emphasizes the show’s “surface” theme. To create his Surface Maps, he photographed two street walls, printed them life-size, and then folded them like roadmaps. The work is in dialogue with the “map-territory relation”, a theory which describes the relationship between an object and its representation.

The Mold Stickers piece is an unlimited stack of mold photographs printed onto transparent sticker sheets. The sheets of stickers can be dispersed, depleted, and renewed over time. The viewer can take these away from the exhibition and put a normally repulsive and uncontrollable substance in the surface of their choosing. While Perkin’s is acknowledging Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ original idea, he also alters it by inviting the audience to give the sticker another life.

Julian Wellisz’s sculptures are also block-like stacks of paper; however, they are bound, solid and not for the taking. The stacks are printed in saturated colors like the jarring and electric colors of New Orleans, where he lives and works.

In Grass Beyong the Mountain #4, William Buchina draws abandoned buildings of Detroit. His intricate interpretation of the abandoned structures is set under a foreboding and vibrant coral sky. In the foreground, Buchina adds a fictional urban environment forcing the viewer to examine their connection to one another.

Every piece reflects these artists’ experience of walking around their respective cities, the same way Walter Benjamin described his concept of the “Flaneur,” the urban explorer. Whether it’s intentionally or by pure chance, different aspects of their findings help them reconstruct the city’s surface into the texture of their own work.

Images: 

Top: Jason Alexander Byers, Greenpoint Church, 2013, tar on paper. 

Bottom: Russell Perkins, Untitled (Grey Map), 2013, archival pigment print.

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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019