Opening on October 28, Library Street Collective presents Machine Show, an exhibition exploring the innovative processes of painters Paul Kremer, Mark Flood, MOMO and Jason REVOK. Curated by Kremer, Machine Show will uncover the methodology behind the artists' works, showing painting alongside video, performance, and functional objects. Whether made to spec or fashioned from available found materials, an artist’s tools can be definitive for a particular series of works, and even have the potential to drive an entire career. With the acceleration of production schedules, tools can be made and modified to offer expediency in practice, create a spectacle in performance, upend convention, or create an aesthetic that leaves the viewer wondering how a piece was made. In taking matters into their own hands, the act of creating unique tools can express dissatisfaction with the status quo, available methods, and with movements in art that came before. Whether analog or tech-based, it is the ultimate act of progress to design new methods of production.
Machine Show is the brainchild of Houston-based artist Paul Kremer. Increasingly recognized for his organic minimalist abstractions, Kremer has developed a new series produced by rotating easels of his own design. "I wanted to make an easel that could allow me to drop paint on a large canvas and move the surface to control the paint flow. I proposed some ideas to my friend Roy Kersteins who built a large swiveling cross. After the first few paintings, we realized we could control the flow speed if we could adjust the tilt. Roy developed a second easel refined to allow a 360-degree rotation and 180-degree tilt. This sparked ideas for different types of paintings, too many to count."
Kremer painted the easels with red and white warning colors to define the function of their various parts, and after doing so loved the way the structures looked as objects. The result left him wondering how many artists have made tools to create artworks, only to be hidden away or trashed after completing their task, "This sparked my interest in finding others who have done the same. Art that makes art."
Though these new paintings are a departure aesthetically from Kremer's previous body of work, there are definite links in palette, formal cues and minimalistic virtues. Moreover, the flat fields of color take on a livliness characteristic of his earlier abstractions, particularly when each piece receives its name. They are rooted in the same immediacy and primacy of the everyday, and the titles give cues to Kremer's reading of chance encounters affected by his easels. In Falling With Chairs and Red Rover, you see it - clouds of dripping color made into something more identifiable, tangible and fun.
MOMO is an American artist who began his experimentation in the streets, first assembling collage on walls generally dedicated to graffiti, murals and wheat pastes. Using an arsenal of shapes, textures and colors, he assembled them in place, never knowing what the end result would bring. Over time, his compositions matured, simplified, and grew in scale, beginning to take on an aesthetic that synthesizes analog and digital influences. It was this early endeavor into collage that can be understood as the origin of his experimentation and stylistic tendencies.
His latest in a long series of home-made tools is a Wall Eater winch that tears carefully arranged drawings from behind carefully glued paper, slowly exposing the final composition. "I first came up with the idea of a 'Rip Cord Drawing' in 2006, as a way to install hidden artwork on the street, that would be revealed if a passerby pulled the cord. But this year, with the help of Andrew Schrock as fabricator, we built a winch that could slow the process down to last hours or even days." What manifests is a reductive collage or drawing that unfolds mostly by chance, "It's a very slow motion deconstruction with suprising results."
Machine Show will feature works created by MOMO's Wall Eater leading up to the exhibition, as well as present the machine's performance on opening night. The piece produced in the gallery will unfold over the course of the evening and will remain on display until the show's close.
Beginning his art career in the 1980s, Mark Flood has become known for his wit, intelligence, and anti-establishment tactics; before making a name for himself, Flood focussed on painting, collage, and making music with his band, aptly named Culturcide. At that time, his works had a punk sensibilty that eventually led to his reactionary - and hugely popular - Lace Paintings of the 1990s. After reading Dave Hickey's The Invisible Dragon: Four Essays on Beauty (1993), Flood took his instigative sentiment to a place he thought he'd never go. Essays argued that beauty — the unidentifiable something that incites pleasure from simply witnessing it — has become an anti-establishment gesture against the art world institutions that had placed political ideas, historical context, and artistic theory above it. Creating the Lace Paintings purely for their aesthetic value was just another way to stick it to the art world. And they loved it.
On view for Machine Show are Paddock and Sorry Pass, created by tearing and shredding paint-soaked lace, carefully arranging it across the canvas before peeling it away. The center of the composition is a single field of color where his tool comes into play to create hypnotic, unending waves:
"How did I make that big expanse of brushwork so supernaturally regular? My secret is that I use super-brushes of my own design. They’re three to six feet long, and have dozens of brushes joined together, on a metal armature that’s bent like stair-steps. So every stroke I make is like 12 strokes, evenly spaced… if I do it right. I sit my fat ass on a rolling metal cart, and my sad assistants earn their dough by rolling me slowly back and forth before the painting. I make little up and down movements with the super-brush, until the painting looks good. When I first tried the cart technique, I thought all I would get out of it was a funny picture for Instagram. But it works".
Presenting the disintegration of structures, the works of Jason REVOK utilize manmade tools in their creation from start to finish; whether a paint roller coiled in tape to create his Tape Loop Paintings, or an apparatus that holds a row of spray cans, the devices are well-considered for their faults. Creating glitches, drips and flaws in all the right places, these systematic - yet accident prone - tools have allowed REVOK to create distinctive series of works that are as alike as they are different. Their substantial scale maximizes the effect of micro and macro vantage points, as broken patterns are visible up close yet blur into humming geometric compositions from a distance, seeming almost automated rather than carefully crafted through experimentation by hand.
Arguably, the artist has done more to bring spray paint to minimalist art than any before. An extension from 2016's SYSTEMS, the works for Machine Show are familiar in their use of materials, but REVOK has developed another tool - a giant spirograph template constructed from plywood that also holds a spray can, marking mesmerizing spirals on circular panel and metal. A recent series created on 60" aluminum will be on display, with a number of the works available for sale via LSC's new sister gallery, Louis Buhl & Co.
The tools to create his Spirograph works are just that - essentially, a scaled up stator (outside ring) made of plywood is fastened to the wall. The rotor (the smaller gear that holds the spray) is then placed inside the stator so that its teeth engage with those of the secured piece as it moves around its perimeter. The number of arrangements possible by combining gears of different sizes and shapes is endless. REVOK has made a brilliant modification to a classic drawing tool, though its evident through video footage of his process that it's not a methodology for the weak - substantial muscle is required to sustain the physicality needed to complete the work.