The nineteen paintings in Tyson Reeder’s solo show at Daniel Reich Gallery are modest in size but they open up a world that expands beyond the canvas' edges, as much as it is framed and contained by them. A wonderful screen with oceanic flora on one side and a pockmarked sky on the other holds that same macro/microcosmic flow.
Possessing a handheld physicality that reveals their process, some canvases have glued paper surfaces that create rough quadrants, over which skittering marks or coiling arabesques of bright tropical colors are made.
But sometimes Reeder’s palette is quiet and subdued, as in Kiss, with its grey scumbling background enmeshed in the tangle of black hair. Heads and landscapes are recurring motifs. They become ways of composing and breaking up the pictorial space of the canvas. Reminiscent of early modernist paintings, Reeder’s vocabulary flits from the representational to the abstract within the same glance. A head is thus not only a formal arrangement of colors and shapes, but also a warped, dreamlike space—a thought bubble or a cloud gathering palm trees into itself.
Reeder’s way of painting makes room for a lot of language. In describing his paintings, I find that there are clusters and clusters of words that come to mind, ignoring syntax or logic. But still everything has its place and order. An Untitled profile doubles as the façade of a house, or as a map with canary yellow roads, winding in and out of a mint green field topped by a sun-eye and pointed roof-nose.
Like Nicole Eisenman, Reeder employs painting’s fertile history, queering the formal language of the Abstract Expressionists so that the paint is mutable and bodied, able to become anything the artist wants it to be.
Images: Untitled, 2011, Mixed Media on Canvas, 30 x 24 inches; Kiss, 2011, Mixed Media on Canvas, 30 x 24 inches. Courtesy Daniel Reich Gallery.