Richard Telles presents six new paintings and a suite of drawings by Jim Isermann, who continues his exploration of modernism’s exhausted modes of expression—in this case, hard edge abstraction. For over thirty years, employing installation, sculpture, and painting, Isermann perseveres in conflating camp strategies with the tenets of modernism into works that often depend on a rigorous system of mathematical codes. These new wall works in particular rely on three—and for the first time, are not square—being slightly longer on one side; one algorithm requiring this size, directs identical CNC (computer numerical control) milled recessed lines into the MDF face of each support. The second code was used for hand-drawn parallelograms that divide the recessed lines, and the third was applied to color—with both having three variations of their own. These variations result in sampling an indeterminate number of possibilities, especially for color: applied with latex paint in seven to eight coats to achieve maximum saturation, the surfaces are flat, yet dense and painterly. This contrasts with the lightness of Isermann’s drawings on graph paper, whose delicacy is emphasized by their hanging on wall magnets. While each work hints at an inexhaustible list of iterations, their agency comes from the failure/near impossibility to hand-paint the sublime represented by mathematical codes and geometry.
In this body of work, Isermann recalls the almost industrial palettes from his craft-based works of the 1990s, where he carved a distinct niche between commercial design and the rarified art object. Even if the output of his formal explorations are limited by the supply of physical space, each work points to an overwhelming number of tangents, an openness beyond appearances. Combined with a modernist-vernacular language, they engage materiality, space, and design in terms unique to Isermann’s generation.
Jim Isermann has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide. Most recently he was included in a two-person exhibition alongside B. Wurtz in 2014, and a solo exhibition in 2012, both at Mary Boone Gallery, New York; additionally, he had a solo presentation at Corvi-Mora, London in 2013. Isermann was also recently included in the group show “Made in Space” at Night Gallery, Los Angeles, which then traveled to Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York in 2013. His recent museum exhibitions include the Musée D’Art Moderne La Ville De Paris, France in 2013; the Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland, in 2012; and Moderna Museet, Stockholm in 2011. Isermann lives and works in Palm Springs, California.