Now through June 16, Petzel Gallery’s Chelsea location presents Patagonia, an exhibition of 11 new works by Wade Guyton. As the brief and succinct Press Release states, this show features images of paintings drying, scraps of linen, lunch remains, and other details of the studio. The images featured are large-scale prints made from an Epson UltraChrome K3 inkjet printer, complete with glitches and streaks left from this printing process. The use of the inkjet printer to produce large-scale images on canvas has become a signature feature of the work of the artist’s ‘post-conceptual’ ouevre, much like the color black and X symbol had previously been incorporated into his works.
The 11 images included in this show are in turn vernacular and abstract, reflections of each other and of themselves. A straight vertical line divides each canvas, splitting the images and marking a moment of rupture or slippage of horizontal coherence. One image, presumably of the remains of lunch, features plastic containers and wrappers, an empty Pepsi bottle in the background. In this image, one of the more evocative stills, the translucent plastic material clutters the frame of each half of one whole wooden table. The washed-out colors surround a central point of green and leafy food, composed in an almost preciously haphazard arrangement. In this case, the doubling, or halving, of the image by this central line lends the scene a romantic and cinematic quality that evokes some element of found footage or vernacular photography.
The streaks and inconsistencies resulting from the inkjet printing process have become essential to Guyton’s aesthetic. Though a process of printing, folding, and adjusting of the materials is required in order to create these large-scale printed pieces, the artist’s consistent use of the inkjet printer raises questions regarding the work of art and the tools or means used to produce it. Though there is undoubtedly conceptual merit in, and a long legacy of conceptual art behind, reinventing the tools of painting, Guyton’s use of the printer as a tool of painting has raised questions about the artistic, or even painterly value of this work. The use of the inkjet printer, and incorporation of the inconsistencies or marks this method of printing leaves into the work itself, places Guyton’s practice at the forefront of conversations about art and digital reproduction in an age of limitless circulation.
Amid these questions regarding form and method, painterly status and material value, the images and their description remain constant and steady, reflecting the visions that surround us, and the surfaces that hold them. The folds and creases of canvas portray these large-scale scenes through the relief of texture, bringing the digital back to life.
— A. Corrigan