Phone Booth Gallery is pleased to present “New Work,” a two-person exhibition featuring paintings by Rick Reese and Harry Diaz. Both artists explore the evocative potential of abstraction and pattern, generating images that ask more questions than they answer. The exhibition opens on August 20, 2011 with a reception from 7-10 pm. This all-ages event will take place at Phone Booth Gallery’s exhibition space, 2533 East Broadway, Long Beach, CA 90803. “New Work” will remain on view through September 10, 2011 at the exhibition space and on www.phoneboothgallery.com.
Rick Reese’s new body of paintings represents a departure for the artist, who has moved away from figurative imagery toward a new, crisp approach to abstraction that questions the difference between order and chaos. Do shifting, patterned planes and vertical colored columns simplify and minimize complicated realities, or do they obscure and confuse what’s real? Can indistinguishable, amorphous shapes join with angular lines to become powerful and yet still feel in some way familiar? These are old questions, but Reese’s work refreshes them, bringing a hip design vocabulary, architectural savvy, and a calculated dose of ambiguity to geometric abstraction.
Harry Diaz explores the power and familiarity of abstraction, too, though his exploration is more deeply entrenched in personal history than Reese’s. Born in Guatemala City, Diaz has lived in the United States since childhood, and his memories of his first home have begun to seem more and more distanced over time. The patterns—stripes, pyramids, circles and loops—that he has pieced together in these paintings are stand-in memories, abstract gestures toward a heritage that has itself begun to seem to abstract. Articulating his heritage in this way, through colors and shapes that are both evoke Maya textiles and present-day pop culture, Diaz pulls his remembered heritage back from the brink of obscurity and visually cements it for himself and his viewers.
Together, this new work by Reese and Diaz proposes that abstraction today can live richly in a space between expression and calculation. In this space, questions about what’s real and what’s remembered bounce around perpetually and ritualistically until the question-asking itself becomes comforting.