You Say Tomato
Marlborough Chelsea is pleased to present an exhibition of new acrylic paintings by Andrew Kuo entitled You Say Tomato running April 4 – May 4, 2013.
Andrew Kuo’s emotional metrics function as poetic abstraction with an internal logic of empiricism at its core. In this sense, paradoxically, his chart paintings are representational - depicting a complex, real-time universe of self-examination and the judgement of others. Like Kuo’s beloved Sabermetrics sports analytics system (popularized in the book and movie Moneyball), they are a cooly factual exploration of the heart’s entanglements, and one that often privileges the underdog with hidden talents. An equal adherent to fantasy sports (with it’s dependence on an ordered, statistical quantification of achievement) and the maudlin, perpetually lovelorn diaspora of Emotional Hardcore music, these paintings are relentlessly categorized inventories of the artists’ misgivings about his longing for and the failures of a universal “you”. The “you” of a song that allows so many to relate to its heartswell of its positive sentiments, but also the implicit blame of its critical kiss-offs.
All of this emotional wrangling is wedded to an extraordinary facility with color and a playful reverence for various historical modes of geometric abstraction, which are appropriated alongside excruciatingly complex scientific graphs of the digital age. Albers’ formal and chromatic logic, for example, lends itself surprisingly well to an exploded, multiple x-y axis graph that maps several concurrent thought processes covering both past and future timeframes. Hue, value and intensity of color are exploited in the service of legibility and comparative emphasis of the information being illustrated, as well as with an eye to unusual and challenging color combinations that produce a striking and impactful beauty.
Additionally, these new works build on the artist’s earlier output by emphasizing the painterly with thicker, more loosely applied layers of acrylic paint, visible tapelines, and other indications of the artist’s hand. They revel in the materials as much as the material.
The “material” (as comedians say) is, of course, the writing. Hand-transferred to paper at the base of each work, these tragicomic, Tweet-length statements that form the backbone of these works are Kuo’s lyrics, giving resonance and meaning to the melody of painted color and form. They are proof of his commitment and ability to connect with his audience - the “you”. Carefully constructed in short, rhythmic bursts, the texts sketch evocative mental states that are immediately familiar to a viewer. Longing, nostalgia, lamentation for those no longer with us (in one way or another), and the romance of New York are conjured with references to lonely walks through the Lower East Side. The reminders of past romances and lost family members are exhumed by the aromas and ambiance of a favorite food or restaurant, the memory of a song or shared moment. In doing so, Kuo takes us from the particular to the universal, and maps the route.