There are many strands of word-based visual art. Pearson’s use of language connects directly to, and builds brilliantly on, the mid-century experiments in distorted alphabets by Raymond Hains and Brion Gysin. But focusing exclusively on the textual aspects of Pearson’s art risks overlooking his substantial contribution to the emblem of painting – as a device of materialist/visionary color and haptic surfaces, he is the rightful heir to Yves Klein, Alfred Jensen and Ralph Humphrey. Raphael Rubinstein, Art in America, 2014
Bruce Pearson will exhibit new work from 2017 - 2019 comprising paintings, drawings, and photographs in
his seventh solo exhibition at the Feldman Gallery.
The exhibition features large-scale paintings that are wall reliefs elaborately constructed from Styrofoam in which text, transformed to the point of near indecipherability and abstraction, is an element of the composition and also the title of each work. The paintings are fields of sensuous color and intricately creviced surfaces producing optical effects – a sensorial rich overload of color, pattern, and texture. For each of his ongoing series, Pearson establishes systems of varying parameters, with their own rules and references, in order to investigate the relationship of image, word, and meaning. Drawings depict iconography similar to the paintings.
The “Encyclopedia Series” combines phrases lifted from articles in the New York Times to create found poems. Pearson then overlays illustrations from historic encyclopedias, such as Diderot’s, onto the compositions. Resulting from this process are abstract maps collapsing text and image. Without repeating any color, the paintings point to the incommensurability of verbal and visual vocabularies. Not to Interrupt Your Beautiful Moment references Albers’s color theory as run through an optical maze. Alchemical and occult symbols are referenced in Code Breakers, a work in Pearson’s series “Spirituality Today.” Within this painting there are up to eighty different shades of white that, when viewed near a natural light source, are always changing color.
Several paintings are based on photographs of different sites and landscapes that are distorted through color and intersection with language. Erase Return and Loophole are based on photographs of light on water juxtaposed with calligraphic forms. In Fear of Death Hope of Heaven Trip to Disney, a photographic image of the legendary site of Mary’s last house in Ephesus is rendered to near readability.
For a new group of hybrid works combining photography, typography, and text, Pearson has collaborated with poets Claudia Rankine and Anselm Berrigan, as well as photographer Zack Garlitos. The most recent painting in the exhibition, Piece of Mind, is another collaboration, this one with poet Mónica de la Torre.
Bruce Pearson’s work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among other museums. He was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 2019.
Reception: Saturday, April 27, 6-8pm. Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday. 10-6pm. Monday by appointment.