Contact High invokes a certain ‘greater than the sum of its parts’ joy owing to the history of artist friends Sarah Braman and Wallace Whitney. While idiosyncratically themselves, they are aware of the ways they have influenced each other and their art since first showing together in the late 90s. Their mutual appreciation, easy dialogue and thoughtful consideration of one another’s work open up a channel for a compelling structure of feeling to emerge. In Contact High Braman positions a small desk of cast aluminum plywood for an imaginary being to sit and contemplate Whitney’s painting. In this way the tone of the painting lends itself to the sculpture and in turn, viewing the paintings through and around the sculpture offers the opportunity to experience color, atmosphere, volume and perhaps one’s body in a new way.
Braman incorporates a variety of materials in her sculptures—cardboard, colored acrylic glass, found furniture, car parts and simple fabricated cubes—that chase to lock down moments she is reluctant to let go of. The soft cardboard absorbs paint, the glass conducts transparent color and the found objects provide psychically complicated information that contributes to the dynamism of the often tipped and tilted shapes.
Whitney makes paintings rooted in the visual perception of an outdoorsy type space, recollected or collaged from surrounding infrastructure. There is a deep investment in oil paint as a material with a loaded history: an investment converted into paintings remarkably full of air. Dynamic drawing and at times aggressive slashing create soaring overpass structures underpinning the lyrical meditations and strong emotions.
Braman and Whitney present a metaphysical skepticism held in check by classical considerations of light, form and space. Like a long drive, the work pushes forward towards something in a landscape, a quotidian sublime grounded by the clunk and funk of a thing prized beyond its obsolescence.
SB: Whit’s paintings are very physical, but bring me into a spiritual or emotional landscape as well. I admire that and would love for things I make to operate on this level.
WW: Sarah and I have known each other for a long time and I really respect her approach to making a sculpture. I like thinking about seeing one of my paintings through and around one of her sculptures and having one of the paintings being a ‘backdrop’ for her sculpture.
Sarah Braman has had solo institutional shows MACRO in Rome, Italy and Le Conforts Moderne, France. She has also exhibited at Mitchell Innes and Nash, NY, International Art Object, LA, 179/The Zabludowicz Collection (in London, New York and Finland) and MoMA/PS1, NY. She received her MFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1998, and her BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore in 1992. She is one of the founders of Canada Gallery.
Wallace Whitney (b. 1969, Boston, MA) lives and works in the Bronx, NY. He received a MFA from Bard College, NY and a BA from Hampshire College, MA. He has exhibited in Europe and the US. Exhibitions include: Gallerie Bernard Ceysson, France and Luxembourg, Canada Gallery, NY, Horton Gallery, NY, and Gavin Brown’s Enterprise. He is one of the founders of Canada Gallery.