Cindy Rucker Gallery is pleased to present Trittbrettfahrer, featuring works by multidisciplinary artists Claudia Bitran, Howard Schwartzberg, and Rusty Shackleford. Taking the German word for riding a train surreptitiously as its title, the exhibition gathers artists who work in the medium of the painting, yet reshape it by incorporating traits of neighboring disciplines, such as sculpture, video, photography, and installation.
As if turning painting inside out, Howard Schwartzberg uses the conventional elements of stretcher and canvas to seemingly envelop large masses of paint. His pseudo-containers give way to hybrid objects, the volume and weight of which place them on the verge between painting and sculpture. Rather than creating spatial illusion through flat canvases, their flatness resides on the surfaces of their fluid bodies, the angles of which suggest that they may
Claudia Bitran’s stop-motion animations depict anonymous teenagers in euphoric and anxious states of inebriation. Taking stills from videos found on social media, the bright chromatic composition in which Bitran reproduces these clips provides an unbiased channel into youth culture, and the brushwork emphasizes the instability of the characters; as they lose control over their bodies, the figures morph in and out of abstraction.
Rusty Shackleford’s multi-layered collages only display minute sections of what were once compositions of paint on paper, yet are enlarged to a scale that engulfs a section of the exhibition space. The prominent texture contained by the digital images elude the viewer, as their materiality consists of no more than a flat surface—a record of an earlier stage of the artwork—which has been warped and distorted. Paradoxically, the work’s lack of tangibility draws us to contemplate the distinct stages of its physical and temporal construction, despite the fact that these multiple layers have been compressed into data.
By navigating different avenues of formal research, the artists in Trittbrettfahrer reaffirm the elastic nature of painting. Whether that be conceptual, technological, or material, they each occupy the medium in contemporary modes of production and prove that the vulnerabilities and mutations they identify in people, images, and objects are also intrinsic to the discipline in which they intersect.