Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Searching Through the Eighties



Joe Fleming, Silver Harley (colour), 2019, enamel on polycarbonate with aluminum substrate, 36" x 28"
Joe Fleming
Silver Harley
June 13 - July 20, 2019
General Hardware Contemporary, Toronto

Over the past 20 years, Toronto-based Joe Fleming has carved out a career across Canada and internationally, especially in Singapore. Those following his painting over the long term may identify him as an abstract painter. 

However, his current exhibition merges abstraction with pop culture imagery and figuration. To do so, Fleming depends on layers and line, in particular clean black lines. This confident even brash outlining has a raw urban street art feel that doesn't seem forced or white cube gallery-filtered. While these paintings may recall street art at first blush, I see their direct lineage more in eighties painting, notably Ronnie Cutrone's pop culture collages and Stella's graffiti-rooted painted constructions. 

While Fleming is not the only artist to reference the not-so-long-ago overlooked eighties, his is not so much a nostalgia trajectory, but one progressing naturally from earlier work, which also stressed composition-defining drawing and collage, but via abstract painting. Consequently, Fleming exhibits an inquiring, self-searching sincerity that's too often lacking in the glut of figurative painting currently filling many galleries.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Found Exhibition

Mold on Drywall, 2019
Found painting, variable dimensions





















Mold on Drywall
Garbage pile across from 55 Triller Avenue 
June 18 - next large-item garbage pick up

Sometimes the best painting is found painting. Such is the case with the lovely mold patterns on this piece of discarded drywall although given the image's appearance on drywall, it is arguably still part of the "white cube." It was a great find at a bit of a low time in Toronto painting with summer shows still in install mode.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Art Before Language


Douglas Huebler, Dead Reckoning, 1964, oil on canvas



















While Douglas Huebler is known as a conceptual artist who returned to making objects via text paintings, he is not known as an abstract painter. So it was fascinating to come across this painting in the Pérez Art Museum's permanent collection.

Huebler did have a somewhat recent exhibition (2017) at the Paula Cooper Gallery of his work from the sixties, but that revisionist show comprised  minimalist-influenced sculpture.

Dead Reckoning (1964) seems an anomaly then. And it perhaps answers at least a couple of questions concerning why Huebler went on to become a conceptual artist. The painting's colouration is muddily unresolved, yet it's tight angular composition and geometrically-shaped canvas seem to herald the new image painting movement of the seventies and eighties, especially the painterly but hard-edged, sculptural paintings of Elizabeth Murray. Huebler, ahead of his time yet short on technical or aesthetic resolve, was bent to be a first generation conceptual artist.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Link to my article on the underrated Hortense Gordon

Below is a link to my article on Hortense Gordon in Hamilton Arts and Letters. Gordon a member of the Painters' Eleven received less attention than less talented artists in the group, such as Harold Town. The article explores how Gordon's age, isolated place of residence, and gender contributed to her obscurity. 

https://samizdatpress.typepad.com/hal_magazine_issue_11-2/hortense-gordon-by-earl-miller-1.html

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Queer Black Painting Again Stands Out

Jonathan Lyndon Chase
Riiiide or Die Boy, 2018
acrylic, marker, graphite, glitter, and plastic rhinestones on canvas
130" x 110"

Rubell Family Collection
Miami, Florida










I had the pleasure of a guided tour of the Rubell Family Collection in Miami during which I saw these remarkable figurative paintings (also with drawing and appliqué) by Jonathan Lydon Chase, a painter based in Philadelphia who is just three years out of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts MFA program. The intersection of queer and Black is not an unexplored merger, yet Chase's paintings are their own entities with their unabashed eroticism; simultaneous art historic and 90s hip hop referencing; and straight up academic faculty. I would love to see Chase's work in Canada, but since museums and galleries are still playing catch up, showing established rather than emergent Black artists,  I suspect it will be a long wait.