Off the Grid
Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent works on paper by Andrea Way. Way continues to develop her idiosyncratic process of alternating system and randomness, ultimately building a tenuous order out of chance and chaos. It is “…the combination of two almost antithetical elements: the elaboration of a plan or code or formula, on the one hand, and the intervention of accidents and unplanned activities, on the other.” (David Tannous) A delicate balance between these two forces coalesces in each drawing.
In these new works Way has deployed a slight shift in approach to move off the grid format she typically begins with. For her the “fixed idea of melody and harmony changed. I think the grid is a human way of organizing things – perhaps ‘the’ human way. Certainly it is the method I used to start building compositions throughout most of my career – and doing so created a ‘regular’ balance right from the start.” The growth pattern using her new method was loosely based on a spiral, but the marks were made by hand so there were unpredictable variations. The new structure “created an environment that seemed to challenge all my notions of what I had considered a ‘balanced’ composition.” It “…forces me to discover – to invent – a balance outside my familiar frame of reference. I have to improvise new rules – new variations on the basic rule – to deal with the imbalance, to try to right it. And this creates a stranger harmony. …What I like about this operation is the way it allows things to disperse unpredictably, to gather and cluster.” (“David Tannous and Andrea Way: A Conversation.” May 28, 2012)
As another writer has noted about Way’s work, it is based on rules and patterns but in the end it is the final result that we see and not the method used to get there. “[W]hen we look at Way’s pictures, or when we listen to music for that matter, we don’t so much see (or hear) the patterns as we feel them. The math, in other words, is invisible. There may be a kind of crazy logic underlying the lunacy of her paintings, which are both strangely placid and teeming with life, but it’s a latent one. Put another way, it’s the beautiful madness – and not the method behind it – that we see.” (Michael O’Sullivan)
Andrea Way will be the subject of a retrospective (Andrea Way: Retrospective 1982–2012) at American University Museum, Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC, opening January 26, 2013. Her works have been included in recent exhibitions at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art (Washington, DC), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), among others, and are included in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art ( Washington, DC), the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden ( Washington, DC), the Cleveland Museum of Art (OH), The National Museum of American Art ( Washington, DC), and others. Way was born in San Francisco and currently lives and works in Washington, DC.