Friday, February 13, 2009

Elliot Anderson "Equivalents"

"The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible."
Oscar Wilde

March will find a new body of work by Elliot Anderson at Gallery 16. “Equivalents.” is a new series of images that follows the direction set by Anderson’s “Averaged Landscapes,” shown at the deYoung Museum in 2007.

In this new work, Anderson questions the modernist notions set forth by Alfred Stieglitz in his seminal 1921 “Equivalents” series. By emphasizing abstract fields of light and clouds, Stieglitz evoked equivalents of subjective thoughts and emotions. Andy Grundberg said “The Equivalents" remain photography's most radical demonstration of faith in the existence of a reality behind and beyond that offered by the world of appearances.”

Anderson uses the Internet, the current repository for all digital snapshots, as his source material. “Inspired by Stieglitz’ work I began collecting snapshots of clouds and skies gathered from the web-searches on the Internet. Using software I designed I averaged together a selection of these images." Averaging is an algorithmic process that merges a series of images into one, creating a final image that is a composite of all those submitted to the software. Elliot's version of the Equivalents recast the meaning from the lone artists search for reality beyond appearances, to everyones search for it. His web searches use each anonymous photographers images to merge with the next creating a singular work from hundreds of sources. Anderson uses the formal subject of the sky, as Stieglitz did, but upsets the modernist vocabulary to grapple with the nature of Stieglitz's presumptions. By exploiting the increasingly communal aspects of technology, Anderson uses a modernist form to a conceptual end.

Another influence on this work is the aesthetic of the sky from Hudson River School paintings. The Hudson River School was a loosely affiliated group of 19th century painters who lived and worked in the Hudson River Valley in upstate New York. These artists were the first to truly represent the American Landscape. The vocabulary of their work included luminous and at time ominous skies through which they sought to evoke an emotional response to an idealized American wilderness.”

Rex Ray: I'm Done!

On the evening of February 12th, we held an opening to congratulate Rex Ray on his upcoming solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. Visitors to Gallery 16 were treated to a special treat as Rex used the opportunity to complete paintings for the MCA in the gallery! Folks were able to witness the process Rex has developed to compose his unrelenting abstractions. He layers hand painted papers and cuts the biomorphic shapes freehand with an xacto blade. Most artists would balk at the idea of producing work in such a public setting, not Rex. He was relaxed conversational and gave the crowd a lesson in the power of saying yes! A video of the evening is below.

Rex Ray at Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Curated by Cydney Payton

For Rex Ray, the joy of making and viewing art is his continuing motivation. Drawing inspiration from his acknowledged influences—the Arts and Crafts Movement, Abstract Expressionism, organic and hard-edged abstraction, pattern and textile design, and Op Art—Ray playfully combines these formalist concepts with decorators’ tips gleaned from lowbrow publications and sources of popular culture in his pursuit to create beautiful things. Gracefully bridging the gap between fine and applied art, he distinguishes himself in each realm.

As a fine artist, Rex Ray works in a wide range of media, including painting, collage, print works, and photography. His collages grew out of the simple pleasure of cutting shapes from magazine pages, assembling and gluing them to paper to create visually pleasing works that have since developed into sophisticated resin-covered panels. In his large-scale canvas paintings, like the one on view at MCA DENVER, he conceives abstracted landscapes from biomorphic shapes and distinct color combinations as a fresh adaptation of an aesthetic that sympathizes with twentieth-century Modernism.

Ray’s work exudes beauty with a subversive edge that stems from an attitude grounded in alternative subculture. He was an early admirer of punk and new wave music. Music holds a special place in his life. A former record store employee and devoted collector, he has worked with leading contemporary musicians, contributing designs for many album covers and concert posters for artists such as Radiohead, Bj√∂rk, Nine Inch Nails, Deee-Lite, and David Bowie.

Rex Ray was born in Germany in 1956. He lives and works in San Francisco’s Mission District. Before moving to California in 1981, he was a longtime resident of Colorado Springs and he still maintains his connection to Colorado. In 1988, he received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute, CA. His paintings, collages, and designs have been widely exhibited at galleries and museums, including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA, San Jose Museum of Modern Art, CA, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA. He is an accomplished graphic designer with a client list that includes Apple, Sony Music, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY.