Painting

"Brushless": Exploring Other Ways of Getting Paint on a Canvas

June 15, 2017

Brushless is a summer group exhibition at Morgan Lehman Gallery that explores the margins of painterly process. It features artists who choose to apply paint using non-brush tools and techniques with idiosyncratic and often surprising results. Though each artist's ends remain unique, paint's fickle and fertile materiality is at play throughout.

The gallery provided these short summaries of how each artist interacts with the canvas:

Nathan Randall Green's site-specific paintings are created by rolling latex paint directly onto the wall, mixing hues wet-into-wet and sometimes masking off certain areas to achieve tighter boundaries and contrast. These wall-based works are comically jazzy riffs on geometric abstraction that activate interior space through bold color and formal directionality.

Using a homemade atomizer, Halsey Hathaway deploys his own breath to propel colored inks onto masked, cut, and collaged paper surfaces. These quasi-pointillist paintings gain their power from subtle chromatic shifts and hard-edged, lyrical geometries that inscribe the boundaries of the support and suggest a sort of corporeal architecture.

Wayne Herpich's tool of choice is the palette knife. In these paintings, the artist slabs on juicy swaths of oil in sprawling, almost prose-like bands, and exploits swaggering wet-into-wet painterly effects to vibratory, highly optical ends. With his signature mixture of exuberance and virtuosic rigor, Herpich challenges the challengers of pictorial abstraction.

Hildur Ásgeirsdóttir Jónsson stains the fibers of her warp and weft and weaves them together on a 10-foot loom to produce shimmering, vibrant silk wall hangings that straddle the worlds of painting and tapestry. Though abstract, the works' imagery is based on photographic views of an array of subjects, including brain scans, microorganisms, and the landscape of the artist's native Iceland.

Rachel Ostrow wields a squeegee to push oil paint across the glassy smooth planes of her meticulously prepared wood panels, revealing richly layered alla prima color amalgamations and nullifications. Ostrow's paintings are screen-like in their size, clarity, and sense of projected light, and celebrate the incidental surprises of paint in motion.

In this series of paintings, Carolanna Parlato pours fluid acrylic directly onto canvas and, by tilting the stretcher in different directions at various degrees of inclination, commands the paint to run, streak, ooze, and dribble into riotously colorful biomorphic compositions that reenergize process-based Color Field painting tropes with Pop attitude and sculptural presence.

Soaking his clothes and bedsheets in viscous oil paint, Andrew Schwartz drags, rubs, and stamps onto primed canvas, building up surfaces that are both imagistic and densely material. The results are abstract and suggestive, making reference to the body through their legible labor as well the symbolic and autobiographical nature of the tools involved.