This summer, Haines Gallery is pleased to present 'Quintessence: 6 Perspectives on Abstraction', a group exhibition bringing together works by six contemporary artists to consider a range of approaches to non-figurative art. The exhibition includes new paintings by artists working with Haines Gallery for the first time, alongside a selection of key works by familiar Bay Area artists from various points in their careers. Each represented practice is wholly distinct and individual, highlighting different aspects of creation: color and light, form and material. These diverse creative viewpoints are unified by a shared desire to reexamine the ways we view and understand painting, both as an act and an object.
'Quintessence' introduces Julian Prebisch (b. 1977; lives and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina) in his first West Coast showing. The curvilinear forms that populate Prebisch’s enigmatic paintings hint at recognizable objects—a fountain, a window, a musical instrument—and recall elements of Art Deco and Bauhaus design. Prebisch draws upon a wide range of references, including literature, cinema, and the history of art, as well as his background in architecture and graphic design, and a childhood surrounded by artistic production, combined and distilled in an interrogation of the origin of forms and their functions.
Los Angeles-based painter Yunhee Min (b. 1964, Seoul, South Korea) foregrounds the sensations of color and light, while drawing to attention to the materiality of paint, its movement and viscosity. Min works with a variety of tools, including brushes, rollers, and squeegees, applying brightly colored swathes of paint that appear to swell and surge across her canvases. In some areas, sheer washes of color may overlap to create new shades; in others, they may thicken and pool together into marbleized ripples. Min’s paintings appears almost luminescent, and the gestural fluidity of each wide stroke belies the rigorous preparation behind the works, with the artist often spending several days in her studio mixing paint to a specific shade and viscosity.
Leslie Shows (b. 1977; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) is similarly concerned with the materiality of painting. A modern-day alchemist, Shows combines unexpected materials such as sand, Mylar, metal filings and crushed glass in her works, which exist in the boundaries between deliberate, controlled renderings and more spontaneous
abstraction. Her mixed media works appear wholly abstract, but in fact have figurative elements that reference natural, geological forms.
The reductive practices of leading California painters David Simpson (b. 1928; lives and works in Berkeley, CA) and Patsy Krebs (b. 1940; lives and works in Inverness, CA) demonstrate refined compositions and methodical approaches that are antithetical to the figurative traditions so often associated with Bay Area painting. In Simpson’s works from the 1970s, surprising rectangular bands and Suprematist-like floating squares frame otherwise-monochromatic canvases. These are hard-edged studies of geometry and spatial relationships, and showcase the artist’s ability to compose with color. Krebs’ 'Interlocking (black/white/grey)', 1990, features the hallmarks of her minimalist practice: the central form of a rectangle or square in a spare geometric composition, demarcated by precise and impeccable lines. The direct reference to a link is no longer imperative; instead, Krebs encourages contemplative, individual encounters with the work.
Presented in dialogue these painted works, Quintessence includes a video by multimedia artist Kota Ezawa (b. 1969; lives and works between Oakland, CA and Berlin, Germany) that examines the figure of the artist within popular culture. 'Paint, Unpaint' (2014) recreates a scene from Hans Namuth’s short film Jackson Pollock ‘51, in which the eponymous Abstract Expressionist drips and flings paint onto a sheet of glass laid over the camera’s lens. Namuth’s film largely informed the critical discourse and popular narrative of Pollock, his paintings, and abstract art in mid-century America, and codified a particular myth of artistic genius: brooding, impulsive, temperamental. Ezawa’s practice investigates the relationship between images and reality, and one could consider his animations as a yet another form of abstraction, as he flattens and simplifies archival footage, stripping it from its original context.