On September 12, Leo Koenig Inc. will reopen as Koenig & Clinton in its new gallery space on 19th Street with the inaugural exhibition, Spectators, Rendered and Regulated.
Over the past few years, gallery goers have witnessed an increasing fixation on abstraction in New York and beyond. While one might attribute this attention to a post-2008 (read commercial) demand for unique artworks, a strictly economic narrative would be incomplete. Prioritizing market value fails to account for a wide range of aesthetic approaches. It also hinders a broader examination of the circumstances that have whet the appetite.
This current wave of formal abstraction, particularly in painting, is largely ahistorical and curiously amnesiac. Running parallel to abstraction’s recent ascendancy is the rapid outcropping of depictive screen images: on televisions, on computers, on mobile phones. In addition to the manipulations afforded by digital post-production over the past two decades, the realm of photography has recently undergone radical ‘democratization’ via handheld devices—so much so that one might be persuaded to agree with the (often misinterpreted) statement by Joseph Beuys: “Everyone is an artist.” Perhaps we are. Hot on the trail of technical obsolescence, a newfangled mass culture rises. Are the non-depictive canvases of high art compensating for the depictive saturation of popular images?
Trading her track pad for wood panels, Hayal Ponzanti’s textured paintings lure somatic and visual responses equally. Meanwhile, Anoka Faruqee’s hand-combed, acrylic moiré paintings retaliate against a depthless glare. Tallying his credit card debt in green paint on a green screen, Josh Kline adapts the style of abstract painting in hopes of making deficits disappear.
Nicole Eisenman’s plaster busts silently acknowledge the contradiction between immaterial connectivity and phantom bodies. Against corporeal and symbolic disappearance, Brandon Lattu memorializes an over painted figurative mural through photography. Arnold Joseph Kemp handcrafts a pair of shoes to accompany a forfeited exoskeleton in a related act of remembrance. Bringing together champion choreography and an original score by Alex Waterman, Cameron Keith Gainer conjures the human silhouette by staging a bioluminescent frenzy.
In print, Tim Davis uses one ruin to document another and then humanizes the motionless spectator in motion picture. Also shuttling between digital and analog technologies, Miljohn Ruperto employs computer generated imagery to model apocryphal biological mutants that Ulrik Heltoft then chemically fixes onto paper in the darkroom. On an adjacent plinth, the printed component of Tyler Coburn’s excursus on cloud technologies awaits another type of spectral transmission—the act of reading.
In lieu of isolating formal, financial, or social abstraction, the works in this exhibition address various underlying conditions that impact our contemporary ways of seeing.