The New Brutalists
Parallel Art Space proudly presents, The New Brutalists, an exhibition featuring Samuel T. Adams, Guy Nelson, Leah Raintree, and Frank Zadlo, four artists whose works contain a rigorous materiality and a transparent integrity of process, wherein form and aesthetic function become one.
October 20 – November 18, 2012
Opening Reception: Saturday, October 20th, 6 – 9pm
Hours: Sat/Sun 1-6pm and by appointment
Location: 17-17 Troutman Street #220, Ridgewood, NY 11385 (map)
Direction: L Train to Jefferson St. / B57 (Flushing Ave) to Cypress Ave
Brutalism is an architectural term used to describe a style and a construction ideology prevalent from the mid 50’s through the early 80’s, wherein certain general descriptors would apply; from Reyner Banham’s 1955 essay “The New Brutalism” – a “legibility of plan / clear exhibition of structure“ and “valuation of materials for their inherent qualities …” or “visible pipes and conduits” and “honest use of materials”. Exposed concrete, unadorned exteriors, steel, glass and an exposure of the buildings intended services (i.e. elevators, stairs) became the easy markers of this architectural style, which quickly became synonymous with the large civic and institutional constructions of that day. Deeper than just a style however, Brutalism, at its best, was an ethical stance of allowance, of letting the materials simply “be” and unabashedly asserting the inherent integrity and value of form as well as function.
It is this quality, in stance and approach toward their craft, that the artists in The New Brutalists share with their architectural antecedents. In the past, analogies were drawn, in some ways fallaciously, from the architectural movement of Brutalism to the movements of Art Brut and Arte Povera. While some parallel sensitivities do exist, the tenets of architectural Brutalism had little in common with the assumed naiveté or “primitivism” of Art Brut nor the socio-political aspirations and “poor art” concerns of Arte Povera. Instead, the dictates of honesty of form, integrity of material, and transparency of execution were what informed and guided the architects of that period, just as these principles in some way inform, in ways direct or circuitous, the endeavors of the artists in this show.
Though the artists in The New Brutalists employ these ethos to their own particular ends (which in many ways exceed the considerations of this show), the commonality of a shared interest in honoring and exploring the materiality of their chosen art components as well as inhabiting fully the processes required for their arts consummation is what marks them as related to, and unifiable under, the general descriptor “Brutalist”.
Samuel T. Adams’ paintings take on a Janus-like consideration and valuation of all the steps in their execution, pushing exploration as far as their material supports will allow. Through a process of wet-sanding through previous works on canvas, Adams unveils deeper associations of intention and erasure. In some works, the sanded surfaces glow with stained areas of pigment, adjacent to traditional surface painting. In still others, his process of sanding tears through the support, revealing the wooden structural supports beneath and/or is reversed, the only “painting” being the bruise-like stains that sandpaper and pressure have pushed through the canvas. Adams also exploits the incidental remnants of his process as captured on plastic drop cloths (paint splashes, drips, congealed pigment and sanding detritus) by adhering these Pollockian records, via acrylic transfer, to canvas. He emerges from his endeavor with a body of work that is as much a record of his painterly choices as the chance and random conditions of his environment, a series of recorded co-operations of artist and material, process and environment, construction and decomposition over time.
Samuel T. Adams received his MFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2009. Recent shows include Black Foliage at Nudashank in Baltimore,MA, and Draw the Line at Allegra LaViola Gallery in New York, NY. Born in Cincinnati, OH, he currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Guy Nelson explores the subtle nuances of surface with his textural material choices, juxtaposing man made substances against those of the natural world. Mixing the processed with the unrefined, his craft is centered on balance and intuitive exploration. In some of his work, particularly concerning the polymers of casting molds, Nelson brings the literal materiality of the intermediary steps of these processes to the forefront of his making and well into viewer consideration. Fiberglass forms co-mingle with animal hide, Polyurethane rubber coalesces with seeds, rope and raw wood. In much of his work, Nelson addresses the changes and breakdown of these forms over time, indicating the aspects of adaptation / modification and/or destruction / extinction of all organic forms under the duress of “natural progression”.
Guy Nelson earned his Bachelor of Arts in Sculpture and Photography from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2000. He is a recipient of the 2005 Minnesota State Artist Initiative Fellowship. He has shown with Heskin Contemporary, NY, NY; 1708 Gallery, Richmond, VA; Aqua Art Miami, Miami Beach, FL; Rourke Art Museum, Moorhead, MN, North Dakota Museum of Art, Grand Forks, ND; 9th Street Gallery, Bethel University, St. Paul, MN; Trestle Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Visual Art Center of New Jersey, Summit, NJ; as well as solo exhibitions at UICA, Grand Rapids, MI; Soo Visual Art Center, Minneapolis, MN. Guy lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Leah Raintree has a core sensitivity to the nature and context of her material choices, those being, for the works included in The New Brutalists, shale stone and paper. Shale, a sedimentary stone formed through geologic compaction has become linked with the highly contentious and recent practice of resource (natural gas) extraction via hydraulic fracturing. In her drawing series, Leah takes a piece of shale and, atop paper, breaks down the rock with a masonry hammer, following it’s fracturing pattern until the entire material is dispersed (a process she also combines with a photographic practice). The drawings and photographs here are a sort of testimony on paper of these actions, which engage and affect the “media”, the “support” and the artist, in some ways, equally. These time based works inhabit a space between intention and history, and through gestures both destructive and generative, bring into sharp focus parallel questions of the destructive and/or generative ramifications of natural resource extraction both upon and within our natural world.
Leah Raintree was raised in Virginia and lives and works in New York City. She holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University (2003) and an MFA from Parsons, the New School for Design (2012). Raintree was in residence at the Banff Centre during the summer of 2012 and completed a site-specific installation for No One is an Island at Building 110: LMCC's Arts Center at Governors Island in 2011. Raintree has also exhibited at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and has had solo shows at Foley Gallery (NY) and Reynolds Gallery (VA). She has been an artist in residence at the Banff Centre (2012), Mildred’s Lane (2011), Atlantic Center for the Arts (2010), Vermont Studio Center (2009), Big Cypress National Preserve (2006) and Rocky Mountain National Park (2005). Her work has been published nationally and internationally, including FUKT a magazine for contemporary drawing (Berlin), California College of the Arts’ Eleven Eleven (San Francisco), Niche (Los Angeles) and Planet Magazine (New York). She was recently nominated for the Prix Canson pour l’Art et du Papier and is included in The Drawing Center’s Viewing Program and culturehall / A Curated Resource for Contemporary Art.
In the works shown in The New Brutalists, Frank Zadlo utilizes the prototypical materials of contemporary architecture, but with the finesse and sensitivity of a poet. By allowing materials to exist freely, he employs a minimalist strategy to component modulation, using only the slightest of gestures to fashion his work. Indeed even found objects are incorporated into his craft, often with little or no alteration. Zadlo undermines the gravity of his materials, and refutes initial reads by prioritizing a dichotomy of visual indicators, heavy vs. light, flat vs. rugged, etc. By honoring the inherent qualities of his material choices (and occasionally obfuscating them), Zadlo’s craft proves that art, at times, requires very little of us, save the ability to be responsive, to be available and, of course, to listen.
Frank Zadlo received his MFA from Parsons The New School for Design in 2008. Recent shows include Tender is the Night at Marine Contemporary in Venice, CA, and Loss Generation at Seton Gallery in New Haven, CT. He teaches in the Media and Technology Department at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, NY, and in the Fine Arts Department at Kean University in Union, NJ.
Parallel Art Space, formerly Camel Art Space, is an artist run exhibition space committed solely to exhibiting exceptional visual art. Located in one of New York’s premier art studio buildings and positioned on the border of two of New York City’s most densely artist-inhabited, culturally rich neighborhoods (Bushwick, Brooklyn and Ridgewood, Queens) we endeavor to provide an exhibition platform based on excellence, contribution and connectivity; serving the parallel interests of artists, community and culture alike.