Autonomie is proud to announce the two person show of David Micheal Lee and Michael Kindred Kinght on February the 11th, from 7-10pm. Please join us for this amazing exhibit.
LEE / KNIGHT: QUOTIENT SPACE
David Michael Lee
Known as an innovative curator, an influential art instructor and a notable figure in So Cal abstraction, Lee's work is informed by a myriad of influences, experiences and methodologies. Among his many bodies of work the Herb paintings stand out as an exemplary instance of Lee's commitment to working in a series, to his love of geometric abstraction and to his unique treatment of painting as a type of sculptural object and as an optical experience. Having developed out of a role of hemp fabric inherited from his father, and from which the series takes its namesake, the original impetus behind these works was to produce an elegant number of organic abstractions about growth and decay, permanence and transition. Beginning in greens and yellows applied to a black ground, Lee's earlier compositions suggested the use of a kind of flatten geometric space which could accommodate the traditional rules of perspective while calling into question the relationship of the viewer to 'nature', the nature of objectness and even the construction of objectivity.
Often composed from two or more horizons, the shifting dynamics of his falling and sliding forms suggest a conflicted sense of spatiality by highlighting the contradictions that adhere to perspectival systems and the experience of color. This is evidenced in the play of high key and muted tones, slick forms and rough grounds and the use of bevelled edges on a deep substrate. Experienced as interlocking or impossible geometries, or as an essay on the tension between structure and form, Lee's modular works suggest a kind of minimalist refrain, a non-essentialist take on the tradition of hard edge painting and a disruption of the Cartesian idiomatic. These three distinctive traits — as well as the floating quality of his shorn surfaces — problematize the sense of space attributed to the geometric tradition(s) that valorized flatness and the 'truth to materials'. And yet, neither an overdetermined program nor a reductionist ethos underpin Lee's work. Instead, we find a focus on absence and presence, the interchangeability of positive and negative shapes and a series of forced relations that is itself about forcing us to rethink our bodily relation to the activation of space and authorial intention.Lee's newest works, which tend to project rich colors over a dark ground, carry off something of a neo-baroque sensibility while also returning us to a place of pure virtuality. In this regard, his most recent pictures are not so much a space of computational rigor as of punctured and paradoxical forms. One might even call them geometries of inquisition, not only for their implicit anti-Platonism but also because they expand our notion of geometric expressivity over and against the rhetoric of discursive positions. Afterall, Lee's work is dedicated to a kind of recombant aesthetic that valorizes both the power of the modular and the singular while letting the idea of the incomplete stand-in for a politic and a working method that resists all attempts at closure. While being indebted to the ideologues of design that extend from the Arts and Crafts movement to the Bauhaus to Art Informal and even certain members of American Abstract Expressionism, Lee's work still sets out for new ground in picturing an inbetween space of desire and dissonance based on the idea of the infinite as a place of instability, or of the absolute rendered in a manner that is irresolute. Such is the nature of Lee's contribution to how we understand the contested field of experience we have come to call 'the contemporary'.
Bio: Born and raised in Southern California, David Michael Lee had been active in the Orange County art community for the past 15 years. Before finishing his M.F.A. from Cal State Fullerton as a resident of Grand Central Art Center, he had completed his B.A. from Columbia College Chicago. Presently, Lee works as the collections manager for the "Phyllis and Ross Escalette Permanent Collection of Art" at Chapman University, where he also teaches drawing and design. He also works as the gallery Curator/Director for Coastline Community College's Art Gallery where he teaches courses in curatorial practice and art history.
Michael Kindred Knight
However inviting and accessible Knight's paintings might seem, to anyone who has encountered them in person, they are contradictory and complex pictorial events. At first glance they appear to be a unique marriage of postmodern syntheticism and modernist organicism — being as playful as they are analytic and as ironic as they are 'invested'. Upon a second take however, one quickly notices that these architectonic pictures are not so much about essentialism or parody. If anything, they present us with a series of questions about painting as an artificial construct or even as a dialogic design. One could even say that in Knight's last few bodies of work the conditions that frame the pictorial sublime have been transmuted into a kind of post-human space built on the use of artifice and the disruption of certain codes of mark making. Neither strictly landscape based, nor 'pure' abstraction, Knight's pictures inhabit an inbetween space that is as much about unhinging the relationship between sign and signified as it is undermining the logic of any given historical program.
If we were to attempt to define his painting practice in positive terms, we could say that Knight's pictures are genre bending — a dynamic re-synthesis of past idioms. Within Knight's works one might come across the pallet of Halley or Schutz, the lost horizon of Hodgkins or Mitchell, the geometric naturalism of Diebenkorn or Feitelson, the push and pull effects of Hoffman or Albers and even the subtle sense of light attributed to Scully or Guston. And yet, Knight's works are irreducible to these influences because they come from a place that is more informed by our experience of the present, and especially a present dominated by the feeling of oversaturation. It is an amazing trick which his works perform, being not so much a cartography of the landscape as a vivisection of art historical motifs and different compositional stratagems. In fact, in the wake of postmodernism, we might call his pictures temporal topologies or inerrant indices of a post-futurist, post-historical, post-avant-guard aesthetic. Afterall, Knight's pictures are not so much about deconstruction as reconstruction — but more specifically, a form of reconstruction that doesn't ignore all the sutures, scares and trauma of confronting the affective skin of history that is abstract art.
However, in Knight's new work something slightly more nuanced is emerging, something we might even see as being a little more cosmetic if we take the idea of embellishment to be a delicate science of integrating formal relations. Indeed, the cosmetic is not shallow, but a deployment of carefully applied techniques that make the play of revealing and concealing into a public affair. And in Knight's newest works, deft and delicate decisions abound, providing us with a greater sense compositional nuance, a greater degree of naturalism and even a gentler orchestration of the sense of passage from one form and color to the next. This is not to say that his pictures aren't rigorously indebted the plastic problems of painting, only that that the sense of plasticity that permeates his most recent works is just now verging on that forbidden territory of twentieth century abstraction — the construction of the beautiful as an entree into the sophisticated.
Bio: Michael Kindred Knight holds an M.F.A. in Studio Art from Claremont Graduate University and a B.A. in Studio Art from Western University. His work has been shown in several west coast cities, including Seattle and Los Angeles. Michael has been the recipient of numerous scholarships and awards, including the Claremont Graduate University's President's Art Award, the Karl and Beverly Benjamin Fellowship in Art, and the Walker/Parker Memorial Fellowship. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles.