• Fuzzy Logic

      Fuzzy Logic

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      1. Tom Hollenback
      Volumetric Painting Orange Rectangle
      cast acrylic paint, wood
      4.25 x 16.875 x 5.25 inches

      In a series of works that has been slowly developing over the past several years, I have been examining the interstices of painting and sculpture with what I term volumetric paintingsworks that fulfill a basic physical definition of many paintings: paint applied to a support structure. Conceptually, these pieces function as the depictions of the volumes of the containers that gave the pigments their forms as well as the material for viewers to conceptually construct the stated subjects incorporating their own filters and biases. These works can also exist completely within the domain of sculptural objects. Acrylic paint is cast, often with bits and pieces of the wood casting form left attached, and integrated with the wood
      In a series of works that has been slowly developing over the past several years, I have been examining the interstices of painting and sculpture with what I term volumetric paintingsworks that fulfill a basic physical definition of many paintings: paint applied to a support structure. Conceptually, these pieces function as the depictions of the volumes of the containers that gave the pigments their forms as well as the material for viewers to conceptually construct the stated subjects incorporating their own filters and biases. These works can also exist completely within the domain of sculptural objects. Acrylic paint is cast, often with bits and pieces of the wood casting form left attached, and integrated with the wood support structure.
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      2. Aljoscha
      G-Signs #3
      polystyrol, silicon and Elbesoie paints in culture tubes
      22.5 x 25.5 inches (installation dimensions variable)

      The futuristic, bioistic idea behind my art:

      Bioism or biofuturism represents my attempt to create new living forms and a new aesthetics of future organic life. For me, bioism is a way to develop art objects, which express new forms of vital activity. Bioism is my attempt to produce an art based on vitality and complexity. In elaborating each piece, I try to invest in with as much movement, breathing and multiplicity as possible. I regard each of my works as a living being. Bioism extends life to lifeless subjects. Personally, I believe that in the future, in the wake of a biological revolution, we will use living furniture, dwell in living houses, and travel in space using living stations. But the most exciting thing will be the ability of artists to work with living substances, thereby constructing new forms of life. The artistic act will acquire the practical sense of birth. Fantastical might be reactions of art object to its creator and surroundings. Art museums of the future could turn into zoological gardens, galleries into new life diversity funds, ateliers into biological laboratories. Bioism aims to spread new and endless forms of life throughout the universe.


      The main vision of the art action "the growing signs of life" is that the museums of the future will be living systems, which are continually spreading. I wish to see outgrowths appear on the walls of the buildings simultaneously and mysteriously on multiple places. Flushing young creatures. Germination of new life. The timing of the project is also important: one week within the middle of astronomical spring, as a sign of the beginning of growth. So I decided to visualize it in some interesting, and as the offspring are growing slowly, non-aggressive way. The pieces are not big, 1 x 1 x 8-12 cm, and sprouting in different places.


      Why are the creatures white and in test tubes? White is the colour of the unknown. They are not test tubes at all - but uteri.


      Why install them in museums? Museums are the best places to be confronted with art.

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      03. Linda Stillman
      More Characters of the Sky: 140 Days
      acrylic on wood panels
      42 x 10 inches (10 x 14 inches each)

      These three panels make a triptych composed of circles of color. Each circle represents one day of the year 2009. The panels are divided into a grid of 140 squares, 140 being the maximum number of characters allowed in a posting on Twitter. Thus, the first painting represents January 1 to May 20, 140 circles of paint. The second panel is the next 140 days and the final panel of the triptych contains the remaining days of the year. The circles are taken from the dried paint of my palette using the colors I mixed to make my “Daily Paintings” of the sky during the year.

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      04. Brent-Hallard
      Tortoise Turquoise #100205
      hand-painted tape on wall
      46.5 x 33 inches

      For reasons that are practical and less to do with, if anything, esoteric or “fuzzy rational”, I use a silver ratio and the square root of 2 (1.41421 35623 73095 04880 16887 24209 69807 85696 71875 37694 80731 76679 73799) as a ready-made, ISO paper size, both A and B series. The advantages are that a working prototype can be made using a simple A4 sheet of paper, and further tested and applied by scaling up, typically 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10.


      By manipulating a sheet of paper, typically by folding back a pair of diagonally opposing corners, the paper surface can appear to take on qualities such as depth. Similar peculiarities arise with the ambiguous Necker cube, which is little more than a series of lines that demonstrate that a cube can be interpreted two different ways: can flip back and forth between two valid interpretations. Though unlike the Necker cube model the folded sheet of paper can be more freely interpreted as there are as yet no internal lines to support a multistable perception.


      Instead of using the Necker model to allude to a three dimensional system, I take a different route and work to develop an open-ended sense of space one that prevents a stabilized conclusion, and instead invites another set of perceptual flows. The experience, then, is in how the difference arrives, which cannot be located in the sensible, though appeals while moving away. When these registrations are strong enough they touch and play with our “reality” preconceptions in surprising and interesting ways. This becomes the art experience.

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      05. Craig Stockwell
      20 Summers
      oil, charcoal, graphite on panel
      20 x 16 inches

      There are (of course) many variables and intuitive moves in spite of the conceptual clarity and rules I follow. In the case of these drawings, there is a similar web of three layers of circle-based grid that is first laid down. This grid is formed by a somewhat random placement of the first and second circles of each set, but then the rest unfolds by necessity. Once the drawing is present, I do follow a clear rule to find the outsides of the central three-circle shape in each grid. This gives a simple form.


      Then, the black lines are laid in and it is not random at all, but has developed in a somewhat random way.


      I then repeat the entire process on the opposite side of the paper (usually the right side comes second). And through this, I get two overlapping (black-delineated) shapes. So, you see there is a fair amount of inevitability once I lay down my first few circles. But, I do find that as I come to do many of these drawings I come to have more of a feel for the shapes that might form depending on differing opening moves. 

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      06. Kate-Beck
      Haiku (Blue)
      oil, pigmented pencil on canvas
      46 x 46 x 1.5 inches

      Drawing through Process

      I am interested in the pure aesthetic of line as an element of both color and substance, and its potential for expressing a wide range of thought and feeling. My drawings are created as an intuitive response to material placed within a given space: graphite on paper, paint on substrate. I use color to establish relationships tonally as materials are repetitively placed, displaced and replaced, allowing an essence of life to reverberate within the austere confines of the structural surface. In this way, a tension is created which oscillates between formalistic geometry and existential space; an allusion to thought and consciousness, and the passage of time.


      I believe white to be the most inherently beautiful color as it carries with it the potential to simultaneously expose and negate space. I believe black to be the most innately powerful color as it is defined by the presence of light as well as by the absence of light.

      The mind’s natural inclination is to identify a problem and work it out, a process of thinking, and re-thinking. My aesthetic is founded in formal principles and methodologies of drawing, which I consider the most visual equivalent to thought.

      Excerpt from Drawing Lines

      (A conversation between Kate Beck and Brent Hallard)

      I think my lines are quiet, but not, perhaps, understated. They are very deliberate. I think of the space between notes of music; how powerful silence can be. I often listen to piano or cello music when I am working. The breaking down and building up of my materials is very similar. The work arrives through attention to the materials and a given space, and to the systematic manipulation of those materials within that space. In this case, the marks that I introduce to a white shape are drawn, erased and re-drawn over and over, leaving traces of the journey of the mark throughout the shape, which also exists within the white space of the paper. I am quite infatuated with this act of refining the tonal line relative to each mark and to the shape as a whole. The drawing is both conceptual, and sensible. Visual thinking; figuring out. I am very caught up with this.

      Within a broader, even existential context, however, there is a question of truth…. My work is not about perfection. It is about resolution. In the drawings, the resolution of the line is subject to the environment in which it is bound. The more it evolves, the more the architecture of the shape is defined, thus the drawing is evidenced; it exists. … it is the spaces in between which hold a certain power: the word that is not said, the sound that is not heard, the line that fades away only to return again; that pause which allows room, perhaps, for the individual. This is my structure, my vocabulary.


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      07. Nick Gadbois
      Site 49 (Turquoise)
      cement and acrylic on wood panel
      12 x 10 x 1.5 inches

      To create my current series of small works, I used industrial materials such as cement, polyurethane and acrylic. The paintings are bas-relief and resemble somewhat ancient cuneiform tablets marked with signs of various circles and lines. My method is to utilize components of mechanical processes to create the images. By taking the industrial objects out of context only the skeletal elements of the visual language remains. Dislocated from their original purpose the mechanical objects convey an abstract language of lines and connecting points. On first glance the pieces appear to be non-objective, but the precision of the markings argue for something that has some specific use. The paintings are made by a process of building up layers of cement and paint and then flooding or excavating the piece to arrive at the image. Washes of material degrade the precision of the mechanical impressions thereby blurring the structural linearity of the piece. Using non-objective painting methods to address industrial visual language produces a work that appears to be ancient and futuristic at the same time. Simultaneously, the markings evoke associations with archaeological sites, petroglyph imagery, and computer circuitry. The paintings are situated somewhere between science and entropy and possess a mysterious enigmatic quality.

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      08. Sky KIm
      watercolor on paper
      360 x 42 inches

      Scroll Series: Vaguely Sensual, Obsessively Organic:

      A series of abstract paintings/drawings that captures the vital energy of all living beings through microscopic scanning.


      There’s a constant tug of war embedded in the organic undulations in my work. The shapes are comforting, yet dizzying; fluid, yet stagnant; organic, yet abstract; delicate, yet obsessive. Symbols of waters and blood represent what we once were in the womb, the beginning point of life, and of my personal memory of my stillborn twin sister. My memory of her in the long but brief time we spent together in the womb, which was the only time that we were together, has entirely prevailed in my unconsciousness. The symbol of water and blood drops on the surface, whose personality also implies both the principles of yin and yang, co-exist in one body rather than staying separated from another. They shouldn't be interpreted as a neuter gender, instead they should be understood as the life energy that a fertilized egg newly acquires, beyond the visual, sexual differences of the flesh. In my work, each circle, a perfect form found in nature, contains the energy, which allows a being to consistently evolve into a complete form of nature. The complete, vital form is favored not in order to discover who I am, but to create myself anew. My “Scroll Series” suggests a new boundary of painting. Both the 10-yard-long paper roll I choose for painting and the three-dimensional optical effect that the dense elements of the central figure, will allow me to achieve a new dimension of dots, lines, circles and curves. When looking at a solid stone under a microscope, there are many movements. This vitality and non-stop evolutionary movement are what is going on in the center of my work. I record my personal time and space, as well as my raw emotions; excitement, anxieties, regrets, hope, frustration, shame, guilt and letting go of things. As writers use old-fashioned typewriters to tell their stories, I leave my own traces of being in a timely manner on 10-yard-long paper rolls. I’d like to reach out to audiences by awakening their originality and helping them reshape their vitality, which has been taken away by numerous life aspects. I want my work to give audiences an opportunity to ask themselves who they were before and who they are now. Following one dot after another all the way into the core of my painting and connecting dots of their own life might lead my audience to the center of their being and discover wholeness.

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      09. Lynda Schlosberg
      Matrix 6
      acrylic on wood
      24 x 24 inches

      The space between you and me, is it really empty? Consider all the unseen bits of data: radio, television, cell phones, wireless routers, e-mail, instant messaging, the Internet. Our air is filled with waves of electrical currents, digital impulses, and magnetic forces. Also consider that everything we think and do as humans is enabled by electrical signals running through our bodies. How does our invisible energy field mix and flow with the energy field swirling around us? What might space look like if all that energy collapsed into one plane of reality?


      My paintings use sources from computer animation; a technological process of fragmentation; and the language of abstract painting to depict a non-verbal, non-physical environment that characterizes a relationship between form and formlessness. Objects emerge and dissipate. Layers of data collapse into one another constructing collaborative spaces of interlacing dimensions. Everything in the picture plane is in total flux.


      In these paintings line and geometry are woven together, constructed of thousands of tiny brushstrokes of opaque, saturated colors. As individual marks assert themselves, they are instantaneously absorbed back into the collective representing a never-ending cycle, where energy vibrates into form and form breaks down into indiscernible particles of energy; where the sum of all its parts creates an ineffable whole.

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      10. Larry Caveney
      200808#2 (Cant Say White Series)
      clothing, acrylic paint, oil paint, and staples on canvas stretched over wood panel
      24 x 24 x 4 inches

      I build my canvas from assemblages of twisted cloth, or to be more precise, twisted items of clothing. The cloth is gessoed and then painted in colors of alarming intensity and contrasts, and a final top coating of white.


      The resulting objects when wall-hung resemble nothing less than square extracts of tropical reef, in full hallucinatory bloom. The extreme color contrasts are somehow balanced by the extreme convolutions of the painted surface: as paintings these works don't so much have patches of purple as they do literal niches of purple, while as sculpture they go a long way toward revitalizing the exhausted form of wall-hung rectangular objects.


      The degree of spatial complexity achieved in the painted surface so far transcends conventional notions of impasto or relief that it is best described metaphorically (coral reef) or mathematically (fractal manifold). Preferring topology, I propose that these works be referred to as Caveney manifolds. I approach painting as a system of work or performative actions. That action being to submerge or bind the character of obviousness with the clothing I work with; the final outcome being just a physical presence or vibration of the used clothing. I push (as work) the clothes back into the special plane to where the narrative or novelty of clothing is lost and only the physical relationship remains.


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      11. Grant Vetter
      oil on canvas
      24 x 18 inches

      Systems Painting between the Organic and the Machinic:

      In an effort to challenge traditional notions of authorship I have been making abstract paintings that are constructed through the chorography of an ensemble of assistants and programmatic systems. Paint is first loaded into various sieves, cannons and extrusion tools that are then pushed, pulled and forced across the surface of a primed canvas or masonite panel in order to begin building up the work. Each device requires one or two assistants plunging the paint through the back of a tubular structure while other workers are consigned to the job of guiding the flow of paint out of these weighty tubes.


      These works not only aim to deconstruct ideas about originality, connoisseurship and style as it has come to be associated with Abstract Expressionism, but they also attempt to bring a greater awareness to the emotive capacities of mechanic movements. By extending the gesture through the combined motion of a series of bodies and striving to use every side of the canvass—front, back, sides, corners, etc.—my works take on a sculptural quality that stands in sharp contrast to the thinness of much contemporary painting. Coming out of a repressed tradition that views abstraction as a vehicle for politics, such as the Gutai group, Eva Hesse and Hermann Nitsch, my color choices and compositions reference human atrocity and violence as the hidden side of American exceptionalism, of which the New York School serves as a prime example.

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      12. Steven Pearson
      Our Heroes Embrace (Surround) the Enemy
      acrylic on birch panel
      48 x 48 inches

      I view my paintings as a constant form of study, and I often create restrictions in one area to focus the study on another. In this series, I work within the restrictions of birch plywood, allowing the wood grain to provide the lines and shapes of the composition. I try not to alter the pattern of the grain, but instead use color to activate and alter the perceived composition of the wood grain, by using harmonies and contrasts to minimize and accentuate particular areas. This has helped to keep the focus on color and color relationships. It has also made me more aware of the diversity of line and shape that can be found in nature, which is something I can bring into future paintings of invented compositions.


      To keep the colors from becoming too predictable I have started using 1980s Superman comic book covers as the source of my palettes. I chose the 80s, the time of my teenage years and military service, because Good and Evil were still being described to us in Black and White. The Cold War was still in progress, and we had a clearly defined enemy. Comics were drawn and written in those terms as well, and the colors were saturated and vibrant. As I develop these ideas further, I plan to delve into the comics of the 1990s and 2000s for sources of color palettes. At that time in comics, Good and Evil becomes more nebulous, often existing in a gray area in between, and the colors become more deep and neutral.


      I am also influenced by the overall composition of the comic book page, and have recently started to build my structures with multiple sheets of plywood in varying shapes and sizes, changing the direction of the grain from panel to panel. I am intrigued by how comic artists use the size and shape of each panel to depict time and space, to speed through time, or linger on a moment, and I think such a device could be interesting to use in non-objective painting.

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      13. Rachael Wren
      oil on linen
      26 x 26 inches

      My work explores the tension between structure and space, geometry and randomness, to create a sense of place where form and air mingle with each other. The dense atmosphere of the larger paintings is arrived at through an accumulation of small brush marks and subtle changes in color and value. These discrete, individual marks, each with a defined edge, work through optical color mixture to create a luminous haze that does not seem hard-edged at all.


      The small paintings on paper also explore structure, space and light through shifting color interactions. As the relationships between flat color marks and ground colors change, illusions of glowing light, layers of space, or volumetric roundness emerge.


      Beginning with simple, somewhat limited parameters—the grid structure, small, repeated brush marks, and light to dark gradient—I see how far I can push the relationships between these elements to arrive at unique outcomes.

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      14. Bruce Pollock
      Red Cluster
      oil on linen
      24 x 24 x 1.5 inches

      My paintings and drawings are based on the self-organizing systems found in the natural world. These systems occur as structural patterns wherever fundamental individual cells, particles or molecules arrange themselves into complex crystalline structures or organisms. These patterns display an inner-logic that provides a set of formal rules that guide my painting process.


      The paintings and drawings you see use the self-organizing strategy of tangent circles and hexagons scaled or nested one within each other, ad infinitum. In each painting a limited color range is used, the color choice for each circle is based on its relation to the whole composition.


      The canvas’s square dimensions and paper edges focus on a fraction of a vaster geometric concept whose scope extends well beyond the works physical limitations.

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      15. Scot Sinclair
      house paint on panel
      24 x 24 inches

      Having been born in the Glasgow area of Scotland I have experienced, throughout my whole life, the claustrophobic crowded landscape of contemporary urban life. These very specific spatial conditions of intense human congregation are the basis of my painting. My work deals with the visual vastness and intimidating primeval power of huge masses, exploring how human behavior and perception are affected and altered through this intense environment.


      The phenomenon of perception, itself, is at the very core of my work. By abstracting images of crowds and altering the color and shape of given forms, my paintings become patterned, optical reliefs; putting the viewer in doubt as to what exactly they are looking at. Not only does the dialogue between the audience and the image play with the viewing distance from the micro to the macro, and the representational to the abstract; but it also emphasizes the liquid tactility and color of the paint itself.


      The aim of my work is to use the paint’s sensuous properties of three-dimensional liquid pigment not only to question the viewers’ perception of deciphering what emerges and disappears on the picture plane, but also to experience the flowing texture of the painting’s surface. I make the viewer approach my paintings in a traditional way; offering them an illusion of a three-dimensional space, yet at the same time, negating the very illusion initially promised.

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      16. Raymond Yeager
      Blue Janus
      oil on canvas
      30 x 30 inches

      During the last couple of years, the main focus of my work has been concerned with the formal investigation of perception. I am exploring that moment between seeing and comprehending. I want to captivate the viewer with something that may not be understandable or recognizable at first glance but will absorb the viewer’s attention and keep it. In my work, I strive to create an imagery that is at once naturalistic, yet abstract. The imagery is derived by using a process-oriented form of abstraction. The process begins with sketches, observations and photographs of an actual subject. The selection of a subject is based upon its potential to create an image that possesses a visual complexity. Primarily, I focus on elements from nature or some form of complex pattern or design. After careful study of the subject, I scan the sketches and photographs into Photoshop and manipulate them by means of close cropping, dramatic or oblique perspectives, a harsh contrast between figure and ground and bilateral symmetry. The result is a dissolution of the subject into abstract forms suggestive of a variety of visual phenomena. After this process, the image is then printed and used as a guide for my paintings. The overall effect of this technique renders an image that is abstract, yet grounded in reality. Turning the ordinary into the strange or ambiguous; turning the familiar into the unfamiliar.

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      17. Anne Polashenski
      Turkish Delight: Serenk Obliteration
      c-print and gouache on paper
      18 x 15 inches

      My current work incorporates textile patterns and photographs of figures in patterned clothing. The painted and collaged patterns act as a form of camouflage to hide and protect the body. These detailed patterned spaces are often psychologically charged, dealing with issues of control, power, entrapment and escape.


      Turkish Delight is a new series of elaborate mixed media works that portray women dressed in Turkish Kaftans that are visually obliterated by the painted textile patterns. Traditionally, only Ottoman sultans wore these elaborate robes; some were so precious that they were given as rewards to important generals or dignitaries. I am interested in addressing the status and gender of dress from this culture from a modern day western perspective, where a long dress is never clothing that an important male figure would embrace. The Turkish Delight paintings give power to the women dressed in the Imperial Kaftans, but as the title also suggests the women are objectified as candy or as eye candy—a role that women confront everyday in almost all cultures.

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      18. Mary Gallagher
      acrylic, aqua stone and glitter on canvas
      36 x 36 x 2 inches

      Historically, triad is the concept of a divine family consisting of three members, father, mother and child. Throughout antiquity the triad myths were adapted, placing each of the gods into a religious context. I wondered how a modern triad might look? So I created my own divine family consisting of three generations, grandmother, mother and daughter. Women are life’s vessels, the womb is the conveyer of our existence. The imagery of the urn is used as a personal reflection of my female experience.


      When I began to think about the term reflection, vision and light came to mind. Then it hit me. The entire piece needed to be white. Bear with me while I unveil my train of thought regarding the necessity of the entire work being white: It returns to color theory and the debate over the question – Is White a Color? The answer is yes and no and varies as a result of how we see and interpret visual information.


      The medium—the color as it exists as a pigment/colorant such as the color of a tangible object or as light (such as a color of an image on a television screen)

      The sender—how the color is transmitted

      The receiver—how humans see color/how we receive information about color


      Much like the old adage “If a tree falls in the woods and there is nobody there to hear it, does it make a sound?” I wonder, “does color exist if there is nobody there to see it?” Likewise will life thrive without our mothers?


      We are all cut from the same cloth. A glob of primordial plasma! Configured and connected by two entities that momentarily became one. We are tiny particles hoping for their light to shine upon us. Praying that someone will recognize our reflection.

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      19. Amy Stacey-Curtis
      Sort II (detail)
      144 acrylic-painted, 3-inch wood circles, 9 glass containers (each container 5 x 4 x 4 inches), 3 color keys, Fisher-Yates Shuffle Algorithm, instructions and audience circles.125 x 36 x 36 inches at starton painted, wood pedestal
      28 x 60.5 x 40 inches

      My interactive installations physically exist as art when temporarily assembled in a space and experienced by an audience. I strive toward an aesthetic, personal and collective balance of chaos, order and repetition—a raw language I feel resonates physically, emotionally, culturally and spiritually within and around all of us—to convey that we are part of a whole. This balance in part depends on the audience who completes my creative process, invited to perpetuate, manipulate and perceive my imagery in specific and purposeful ways. Without the audience’s careful participation, my work is static and unfinished. Following each installation, my work exists only through documentation, dialogue, connection, memory.

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      20. Matthew Metzger
      PoliticsCutting Board
      oil on wood panel
      12 x 12 x 1.5 inches each

      In contemporary culture, the potency of the singular image has become questionable. Information is continuously saturating our senses, compromising our capacity for a phenomenological engagement with our surroundings. We are hindered in seeing and experiencing multiple aspects of a situation, or an object’s presence, due to the conditioned inclination to classify then judge, rather than perceive then question. Within this climate painting is now contentious and verging upon unnecessary. Seen in view of mass production, multi-mediated forms, and technology’s inevitable drive towards speed and clarity, a painting is always challenged by the growing desire for immediate gratification.


      As a result, interrogation and questioning of conventions and rules as impetus for painting, rather than subject for painting, is no longer fore-grounded in the practice. Contemporary painting often takes refuge in reinscribing its own history as subject, and so reiterating the spectator’s presumptions of the medium. I am certainly not insinuating that against this methodology, one of historical reinscription as subject, there lingers some antithetical reserve hidden in the back shed ready for fruitful engagement. That would only perpetuate an arid polemic.


      Instead, my practice employs the dogma of modernist abstraction, namely Greenberg’s “medium specificity” and Fried’s proposal for “shape as form,” as the intellectual framework. I then filter these theories through the formal characteristics of banal, discarded, familiar objects. The objects I render are selected according to carefully established conceptual criteria. They are chosen for both their potential to complicate their own history, as well as the ease with which they may be situated within the monastic history of painterly abstraction. I paint each object at a one-to-one scale and they are copied with an extreme, nearly forensic attention to the character of its surface. This practice, which employs the dogma of modernist abstraction in order to render cultural kitsch, stems from a deep fascination with the affects of painting as pure oscillation between conflicting paradigms.


      For example, I understand painting to operate within the same vein as the linguistic shifter, as an empty material that awaits signification depending on the forms it manifests. I use the mimetic agency that painting retains as a rich adversary to the traditional read of “medium specificity.” In order to “entrench painting more firmly in its area of competence,” therefore, one must engage in the devices of language, mimesis, and phenomenology as well. Such work challenges our tendencies towards knowing through hierarchical relationships, both in vision and comprehension of the world. I also use the conventions of the rectangle to produce a formal tension between the painting and the painted object. By creating a substrate that is sized to the exact maximum proportions of the object rendered, the surface of the painting becomes inextricably conflated with the surface of a culturally discarded and threadbare economy.


      How can the dialectical framework of painting reveal the subliminal impact that everyday objects impress upon us? How might a painting splice the lines of history while making transparent its very connections? The dialectical synthesis that ensues presents abstraction no longer as a quotable and familiar category, but rather as a tool for dismantling the conventional and recognizable, both conceptually and formally. I am interested in questioning and dissecting abstraction, and its history, as plinth for constructing, swindling, and swashbuckling the negotiation of our contemporary method of meaning making. This interrogation of painting produces a provocative convergence between the present and the past, the theoretical and the sensorial, the real and the falsified, the legible and the abstract.

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      20. Matthew Metzger
      PoliticsCutting Board [detail 1, recto]

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      20. Matthew Metzger
      PoliticsCutting Board [detail 2, verso]

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      21. Owen Schuh
      1) Starting from a single circle place each new circle as close to the first as possible 2) Fill in any circle that has exactly one neighbor
      acrylic paint on panel
      12 x 12 inches

      My work explores the possibilities of mimicking the natural world through a set of visual expressions of mathematical models. The questions that most interest me revolve around the relationships between language and perception, nature and artifice, and logic and form. Rather than working from nature toward an abstract representation of it, I work toward nature from the abstract structures and mathematical forms. The work employs a variety of different geometric and mathematical rules, which, though relatively simple in nature, yields a surprising organic complexity. They determine the growth and rate of change by individual “cells” (drips of paint, circles or geometric shapes, etc.) in relation to each other and their environments. Counter-intuitively, the constraint of the rules frees me to explore new forms and images impossible to achieve through my artistic instinct alone.


      In each piece, I attempt to arrive at a unique configuration of formal and physical elements. The properties of the materials used dramatically change the final form of the paintings. The color, the viscosity of the paint and method of application allow for the manifestation of phenomena unique to the interaction between the medium and the logical structure. As opposed to a single fixed model, these works imply the possibility of multiple rational viewpoints of the natural world.

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      22. Artists Processes
      Looped DVD,
      00:10:18 minutes
      Featured Artists: Aljoscha, Larry Caveney, Amy Stacey Curtis, Mary Gallagher Stout, Brent Hallard, Tom Hollenback, Anne Polashenski, Lynda Schlosberg, Owen Schuh, Linda Stillman, Craig Stockwell, Rachael Wren

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      21. Owen Schuh
      Notebook #1
      2006 ongoing
      graphite, ink and gouache on paper
      15 x 9.75 inches (open)

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Contemporary Painting After a Century of Abstract Art
Part III. Conception-based Abstraction

April 9 - June 17, 2010
Fuzzy Logic

Well, even nonsense has a right to live.1
Marcel Duchamp

I was interested in ideas—not merely in visual products. I wanted to put painting once again at the service of the mind.2
Marcel Duchamp

Fuzzy Logic
is the third and final installment of our series, Contemporary Painting After a Century of Abstract Art, which presents a cross section of contemporary artists who combine non-figurative imagery with rule-based painting practices. Namesake, our first exhibition, examined observation-based abstraction with its tendency to reduce, alter and edit the visible world. It demonstrated a crucial point about the observation-based approach, which is always inspired by nameable objects and spaces no matter how stylized the end product evolves away from its source. Deconstructing Chaos, the second exhibition, examined intuitive-based abstraction, which exposed the power and vitality of exploring hard-to-pin-down subjects via visual cacophonies of shapes, forms and elements of design, with ceaseless networks of markings, amorphous imagery and associative connections to subjects, which can all be layered or juxtaposed through both additive and subtractive means. Intuitive-based abstraction often unites memories and emotions that allow us to construct and make sense of the universe from such visual and visceral cues and triggers, but the final product is never a known quantity; intuitive-abstraction is always an adventure in the making. Whereas, semblances and connections, respectively, informed the work in our first two exhibitions, the art of Fuzzy Logic is abundantly vested with conceptual strategies that for the most part are not at all about such things. Thus, Fuzzy Logic de-emphasizes semblances and associations in favor of exploring cognitive systems of paint dispersal, or, put another way, Fuzzy Logic illustrates non-retinal, idea-based painting.
Having established the above platform, we may now succinctly acknowledge that the first hundred years of abstract art are punctuated by a handful of trends, which Contemporary Painting After a Century of Abstract Art groups into three basic categories: observation, intuition, conception. Fuzzy Logic, the most recent and arguably most prevalent development, is an attempt at examining contemporary practices that tend to emphasize idea-based approaches while de-emphasizing imagery, design and discovery. The show aims to emphasize Sol LeWitt’s important distinction: In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.3
At first, it may seem an incompatible relationship to join together an overtly idea-based painting practice with nameless imagery. Logic that attempts to create content out of patterns of non-objective painting material, with established limitations of design, seems fuzzy, at best. But at its core, Fuzzy Logic aims to demonstrate how painting ideas gains strength when semblances and connections are minimized if not expunged from the visual record. It is as though images of things get in the way and to better see the idea, they are purged, unless somehow, such imagery can revert attention back to the initial idea in the first place. And indeed, we will see in a few instances that rule-based abstraction does not necessarily preclude the possibility of observational or associational underpinnings. Fuzzy Logic allows for such contradictions.
Though visibly obvious relationships abound, the varied work in Fuzzy Logic is difficult to separate into groups. For example, circles are a common trait as is the use of a grid as an organizing principle. But, as strategies are compared among the twenty-one artists, such affinities remain only visually connected. Some artists use circles as a way to approximate the biology of living systems, made up of countless numbers of small parts. Others use circles to express understandings of algorithms or to catalog the daily color of the sky. Several artists align in general resonance with regard to mutual interests in mathematical organizing principles, but no two artists work with the same principle twice. There is a tendency for many pieces to relate to more than one grouping despite visual cohesion. Several groupings are not immediately apparent and require the aid of an artist’s statement to recognize. Many works blur the distinction between polar opposites such as: painting and sculpture, representation and abstraction, portion and entirety, individual and group, system and choice.
A small group of artists focuses on theoretical concerns. Works in this category tend to catch the viewer thinking about thinking as much as they also critique abstraction or directly comment on abstraction as an activity. The work in this self-reflexive category tends to confound the viewer at the onset of looking at it, tends to raise questions about how it was made, and in one way or another appears deceivingly simple to apprehend, or otherwise seems out of place.
Several artists fall into a category that could easily be considered intuitive abstraction were it not for their governing principles, which keep them far away from associative and connective practices as they expose issues having nothing to do with any kind of expressionism. The unique ways in which this group of artists uses paint is of great interest. Paint is extruded through fabric, or machines, or syringes. Paint is built up into sculptural forms, or poured. In one case, paint is not even used, except as a tinting agent to colorize cement, the main medium. And in another case clothing is used in place of canvas. Some artists in this group are finding visual equivalents of mathematical properties or they mimic the natural world through a set of visual expressions of mathematical models. While other artists work with computer systems to generate imagery that is then painstakingly made by hand. In each case, the material means are secondary to the ideas examined.
One thing that seems clear is that while the imagery of Fuzzy Logic is abstract and hard to place, the ideas that governed the creation of the work are palpable and made to be understood logically. Perhaps, that small but important point says a lot about our series and the history of abstraction. Fuzzy Logic is a celebration of a way of painting that is innovative and intellectually stimulating at a time when both artists and critics alike have been skeptical and critical of abstraction as a process in all its various derivations. Nevertheless, as we have seen, working non-objectively stems from an impetus to devolve a particular Namesake, or it can be about Deconstructing Chaos, or it is a kind of Fuzzy Logic; regardless, each of these approaches captivates us in thought. Indeed, since abstraction’s inception a century ago, the activity and the work to come out of its myriad practices have been dubious from many points of view. However, if viewers find themselves imagining and thinking about Contemporary Painting After a Century of Abstract Art, then the ideas that govern this non-objective art have re-invested painting to be in service of the mind.

Todd Bartel, Curator
Gallery Director
Thompson Gallery

1. Paul Matisse recounting Marcel Duchamp in conversation with PMA curator Michael Taylor, at the First Annual Anne d'Harnoncourt Marcel Duchamp Symposium, Philadelphia Museum of Art, September 12, 2009, as reported by Michael Oatman.

2.  The Museum of Modern Art Bulletin, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1946, p. 20.

3. Sol LeWitt, "Paragraphs on Conceptual Art", Art Forum 5, no. 10, Summer 1967, pp. 79-83

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