For the 2020 edition of UNTITLED, ART San Francisco, Peter Blake Gallery is thrilled to share an exhibition of the late-Bay Area native Tony DeLap’s historic paintings.
Tony’s work occupies an ambiguous space between painting and sculpture. At first glance, the work presents masterfully executed monochromes with impeccably elegant finishes. His colors are at once deeply saturated and subtly muted, an effect heightened by his immaculate application of paint. With no sign of brushstrokes, the experience of his paintings approaches the act of perceiving pure color, absent of any object. Yet the physical presence of Tony’s canvases is conspicuously sculptural. He constructs his paintings from multiple canvases carefully assembled into a singular work. The work’s sculptural presence is further pronounced by the integration of polished wood into the composition. The LA Times’ Christopher Knight describes Tony’s work as “impossible objects,” not only because they graft the otherwise distinct forms of painting and sculpture, but also because of Tony’s peculiar geometries. His 1977 work MYSTERIOSO serves as a perfect example of this quality, where “a square and a circle might intersect, creating a virtually indescribable shape.” Tony’s hybrid painting-sculptures are truly confounding to experience. These “irregular geometries” cast dynamic shadows on the walls and invite viewers to experience the work from all angles, even the most oblique.
As a pioneer of Abstraction, Minimalism and Op Art on the West Coast, Tony was included in the landmark exhibitions The Responsive Eye (1965: MoMA, NY), Primary Structures (1966: Jewish Museum, NY), and American Sculpture of the Sixties (1967: LACMA, CA). Over the course of his 60-year career, he had a number of retrospectives, most recently including the Laguna Art Museum’s major retrospective in 2018. Yet, it has been some time since the Oakland native’s art has been presented in the Bay Area. UNTITLED San Francisco presents a welcome opportunity to share Tony’s work in its original context and reconnect with his home audience. We look forward to paying tribute and shining a spotlight on Tony’s work.