These painters have not worked or shown together before, but their fresh pairing serves to eloquently amplify their formal priorities and technical processes, each to each, as a function of their divergences. In the works of Sutherland and Schroeder, a shared appreciation for liminal topographies both draws their visions together and keeps their practices at a remove. Salient investigations into the spirit of surfaces and the substance of materials unfold during their impromptu visual dialog.
David Donald Sutherland pursues a super-flat single plane of surface, a hard-earned near-perfect shell, beneath the subtle sheen a volatile, alluvial riot of color blocked, feathery edged, tectonic negotiations unfolds, wet and quick, then freezes in its final form -- an abstract painting. An internal volatility animates the compositional balance in Sutherland’s process of gravitational pours, directed not with brushes but by gravity, manipulated with the artist’s sharp and sweeping movements like a tribal dance. Ultimately the paint finds its own path. In part this is a function of the chemical makeups of the pigments themselves -- the molecular densities and metrics of unctuousness perform their own secret handshakes. Tertiary and counterintuitive, Sutherland’s fleshy peaches, olive intonations, light violets, dark oranges, black, white, moss, slate, pulsating blue, charred red, indigo, and buttermilk interact but remain self-contained throughout this process.
The results possess a crisp linear quality and the sense of rendering despite there being neither line nor image. Are they figurative? “Well,” says Sutherland, “the images aren’t not there…” He takes inspiration -- mainly in the form of specific palette keys -- from Art History; and he knows there’s always a part of the paintings that carries those images within itself. For example, this series has been directly inspired by the work of Francis Bacon, an influence most clear in the work based on Bacon’s “Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, Standing in a Street in Soho, 1967".” Aside from channeling the hefty pinks and blues, Sutherland’s painting has a certain center of gravity and a central image that hints at the anthropomorphic, but cut with the entropic blur of social and emotional violence that Sutherland captures.
Chas Schroeder also works on a large scale, in a way that interacts with the landscape through an abstract mode that the artist describes as “pastoral, urban, and idiosyncratic.” His attitude toward the work’s surface is a kind of anything-goes, swashbuckling technique of chance and variety which includes but is not limited to undirected pours, aerosol sprays, acrylic washes, mineral oil, joint compound, gravel, and light projection. Like the world he portrays, nothing is destroyed, only transformed, and nothing is empty. Even Schroeder’s negative space is actually painted white. The results are geological in the complex manner of a rocky beach or a forest floor, organic in its profusion of detail -- but punctuated by the introduction of sudden sharp geometric shapes that interrupt the idea of organic with the unmistakably artificial.
Inspired by the dichotomy of his youth in the country and his life in the city now, Schroeder takes cues not only from the rural/urban divide but also from the divisions, edges, and in-between places within both nature and the built environment. He is attracted to edge effects (which sounds optical but is in fact an ecological phenomenon), and refers to the transitional areas between adjacent ecosystems. Like brackish water, or landfill. “Walls are such a human thing,” Schroeder says. “Property, territory -- nothing is that neat.” His accumulation of mergers.