This selection of paintings by Eric Magnuson currently on view at the newly branded Resource: Art Showroom at the Belesario is from the period 2003 to 2013, and covers two distinct bodies of dovetailing work. The title “Ten Years Gone,” refers to the span of a decade while poetically connoting lament and wonder as expressed in the Led Zeppelin song of the same name.
The origin suite under the banner of, “Edited for Content” is from 2003 to 2009 and the subsequent series from 2010 to 2013 is titled, “Be Here Now/ Please Stand By.” These works engage, espouse and present the history of westernized painting as sign, language as landscape and semiotics as subject.
The “Edited for Content” suite rigorously pairs down and distills a concept, phrase, idiom or statement into a sign as painting. By reducing the subject to the basic components: on linen/canvas, in black and white paint, and in a particular font, the stage is set to create and demonstrate a paradox or phantom meaning. As with Magritte’s “The Treachery of Images,” this work approaches the realm of falsification and points toward a more honest possible reading. In turn, the non-meaning or default significance in something that initially might appear to be a straightforward fact is indeed exposed as misleading or inaccurate. For example the phrasing, “image coming soon,” in a dimensional typeface is itself already an image or word/picture of the saying “image coming soon,” and a simple concept such as “objective reporting,” expressed in the typewriter font spells out a claim that in today’s news-as-entertainment era, we tend to find suspicious. Is anything presented, reported, indexed and expressed ever really objective?
"Be Here Now/Please Stand By" is a series of paintings of language as landscape, in which one phrase, expression or concept is overlaid or inserted underneath another. By taking the slogan "everything must go!" in one font and placing "all things must pass" over it in another typeface, a visual and linguistic collapsing, merging or meshing occurs. The resulting read may be a third or hybrid translation or an unanticipated shadow meaning. As topography is to landscape, typography is to language. The words and sentences we speak and write form our cultural and social landscape. We look through our language to see ourselves. We read through the terms of our vocabulary toward a horizon of self-definition. Idiom, lexicon, and vernacular form the lens through which we see and understand the world.
“I consider painting to be a convention, a language of seeing, and in turn I consider language as malleable and as viscous a medium as paint. I therefore paint with language and the supporting materials of pigment and linen/canvas are allowed a textural as well as textual voice within this physical aesthetic activity and historically charged genre.” – Eric Magnuson