room for painting 15 - Ward Schumaker: fashion and logic, recent paintings
For the 15th show in the room for paper we are introducing the painting of San Francisco artist Ward Schumaker. Schumaker’s work has an agile spine, springing from an ever-evolving center of art historical balance. His swirling scumble recalls Cy Twombly, and his deft approach to gesture the painting of the French Tachist Georges Mathieu. Something in his graphic equivalent of skin grafting is reminiscent of the collage elements in Julian Schnabel’s work, and the recurrent, autobiographical references in Jasper Johns’ imagery. Without warning Schumaker will often introduce texts and iconic sketches into his abstract expressionist dust devils, calling on an ensemble cast of welter weight boxers, stylized fairies, abstract monkeys and kneeling sirens named Betty. He can treat painting like a garage sale and still have it come across as something pure and untainted. He does this with his touch and with his spirit and with an ingrained familiarity with the medium born of longstanding, diligent practice. He melds these disparate elements without losing the paint in it all because the paint is already in his marrow. Why juggle an ironing board, a tire iron and a stray cat? Because you can, just as you can celebrate the agility of the human spirit, steeped in tradition and poised for discovery at every turn.