UNTITLED is reassembled to present a new solo show of work by Phil Wagner, his second in the gallery.
Car tires and metal grids, bicycle wheels and stereo speakers: this is the detritus of East LA, salvaged from offhand discard and made new – newly functional, newly aesthetic – in Wagner's three-dimensional paintings. With this new body of work, Wagner has not only extended his painting practice, he has continued to pivot his way into the history of assemblage.
His use of found objects, however, is only half the story he tells here. At a certain point, Wagner found the streets wanting. He had run up against the limits of what could be scavenged, and turned homeward, to the studio. He needed to construct as well as compose. He continued to rely on a material vocabulary readily at hand – steel, spray paint, plywood, the stuffs of the neighborhood – but turned his energies toward formal invention rather than juxtaposition and intervention.
Gesture was once present in his work only disguised as his primordial urge to build the perfect composition. This time, gesture is laid bare in color blocks, crumpled sheets of steel and urgent marks of spray paint.
Phil Wagner (born 1974, East Moline, IL, lives and works in Los Angeles) has had solo shows at UNTITLED, NY and Black Dragon Society, Los Angeles, CA. His work has recently been included in group shows in the US and abroad, including Interruption: a break in the continuity of interstitial at Michael Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles, CA (2012); Into the< Surface at Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy (2011); American Exuberance at the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation, Miami, FL (2011); Painting and Space at Luce Gallery, Turin, Italy (2011); and Jessica Dickinson, Oscar Murillo, Cammie Staros and Phil Wagner at Mihai Nicodim, Culver City, CA (2011).