Surface Feat featuring Jaena Kwon, Andrew Mcnay, and Jenna Rosenberg unearths under-represented artists with wall-based practice.
Floor to wall, these artists have been selected for their mindful focus, whether observing a surface and meticulously re-constituting its ontology or destabilizing painted layers with scrutiny. The paintings bring attention to the constructions around us—the weave of canvas, the composite of our roads, the accumulation of paint on walls.
Occasionally, any one of us is graced with that moment when the sidewalk is more interesting than our iPhone, or when the door of the bathroom stall is more interesting than the cartoon’s fucking on it. Perhaps we are caffeinated, in the middle of the perfect bowel movement, or otherwise blissful. The artists were selected for living in this moment or, rather, making it their duty to inhabit the immediacy of the affective surfaces surrounding while taking careful notes on each detail.
As a painter using sculptural processes, McNay uses custom-casting techniques and dollar store dyes to evoke a fraudulent painterly form. The exacting process re-casts the wheel, positioning the viewer to reconsider comfortable interpretations. Plaster canvas weaves and wooden panels painted and formed to look like metallic sheets present familiar objects from subways and museums alike. Time spent with the surfaces rewards small clues to the true makeup of the objects, i.e. affected holes exposing rocky matte otherwise absent in woven linen.
Rosenberg shares this penchant for deception. Focusing her attention on the floor, her work re-pedestals renowned surfaces such as industrial shipping pallets or ancient Greco-marble floors. Her trompe l'oeil detailing is the ace in the hole for her Styrofoam constructions. Conceptually, the flipped card creates the necessary confusion to encourage viewers to be more skeptical of their environment, IRL.
While the aforementioned talent focuses on re-imaging existing surfaces, Kwon spends time perfecting subtle color gradations and meticulously formed and finished slabs of shaped medium-density fibreboard (MDF). Equally confusing as the work of Rosenberg and McNay, Kwon’s panels offer the indeterminate presence of shaped metal or plastic forms. The effective combination of form and color, call attention to something that feels specific, familiar, yet upon reflections pulls up no cognitive results, allowing for the work to feel new, fun, and minimal, simultaneously.
As a group exhibition, Surface Feat will leave viewers reflecting on both the singular works in the show and their relationship to larger sets of objects outside of an art-context. Reconsidering the important details, the world feels fresh again. Like Jazzy Jeff besting the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as the two African-American men turn into septuagenarians and look back on an overly-indulged acting career and a series of bad albums, Jeff turns to Will and says take a new look and this time remember what it is that you were looking for in the first place.