On 6 March 2014, Mary Boone Gallery will open at its Fifth Avenue location an exhibition that brings together the work of JIM ISERMANN and B. WURTZ.
Jim Isermann and B. Wurtz met in 1979 while enrolled in graduate studies at CalArts in Valencia, California. While each pursues a different use of materials and mode of expression, they share a common desire to make work that combines a systemic examination of form, color, composition and space with the sheer pleasure of looking.
In 2008, after twenty years of concentrating on architectural projects and sculptural objects that assimilated craft and design, Isermann returned to studio painting, using algorithms to create a series of works in a four-foot square format. Ten of these works are on view in the current exhibition; they turn prescribed formulas into kaleidoscope images of pattern and color. On close examination, their painterly surface - as many of eight layers of latex acrylic are used to achieve the intense saturation - becomes apparent. This erratic quality is at odds with the precise mathematical geometry to which the works aspire. Isermann sees the impossibility of the paintings to meet this promise as echoing the failed Utopian strivings of Modernism.
Where Isermann addresses society's ideals, Wurtz focuses on the fundamental concerns of daily life: food, clothing, shelter. With Isermann's paintings in mind, Wurtz has created a group of a dozen new collages and sculptures that appropriate images of fruits and vegetables from the splashy "weekly special" advertisements that supermarkets distribute. The works' tinkering, handmade quality and lowbrow source material would seem to contradict Isermann's abstract discipline. Instead, they reinforce the paintings' playful exuberance and, by repeating hand-drawn grids of letters and numbers, engage in dialogue with their modular construction.