Abstract Labor, or: The Happy Butcher
For Scanlan, painting is a means, not an end—a generative process rooted in the studio yet open and receptive to the world. With a fascination for the medium's many histories—especially the traditions of textile manufacturer and stretcher builder as anonymous craftsman—Scanlan’s new works freely pursue new vocabularies of abstraction and methods of making.
Questions of form and process find a more distributed context than ever before as Scanlan embraces an ever-expanding network of references and influences, including fine woodworking, laundry day, and alcoholism. Drawing into the studio aspects of bluegrass, furniture, literature, performance, meteorology, philosophy, and class, Scanlan filters his wide-ranging interests through the aesthetics of a job well done.
By engaging painting's history, conventions, and critical debates on their own terms, he insists that the role of the painter is open to interpretation and reinvention. Indeed, the simple repetition in the show's objects is meant to signal the term's fluidity, as Scanlan pulls apart, examines and reposes painting’s various meanings in our present moment.