Marking a range of new explorations in an already diverse and wide-ranging body of work, artist Michelle Grabner opens a new show of works this month at James Cohan in downtown Manhattan. Marking a renewed engagement with restoration and material, Grabner’s installation meditates on simple gestures and repetition as a manner to explore an expansive interior world.
Grabner is known for her broad perspective developed as teacher, writer and critic over the past 30 years. The site where it all comes together is the studio. Her art-making is driven by a distinctive value in the productivity of work and takes place outside of dominant systems. This process takes center-stage here, rendering a series of iterative images that walk a delicate line between material fascination and meditative
The paintings in the new exhibition are the outcome of probing questions into the nature of difference. The artist asks, “How much ‘difference’ can be introduced into a pattern field without collapsing into unreliability? Will referential and familiar patterns tip the compositions into capriciousness and disintegration? What organizational conceits can be developed to unify disparity?” The works are subtle. Secure white grids become wonky and individualistic. They radiate, vibrate and dissimulate. Colors emerge and dissipate. There is a defiance in how they evade easy reproduction, disregarding how images are disseminated in the digital age. Their quiet nature requires physical presence.
Taken as a whole, the pieces in the show welcome lingering concentration, their curving, arcing patterns and caked dots of paint that create intricate patterns akin to a fractal experience of texture, the canvas’s visual world expanding and complicating as the viewer gets increasingly close to its surface. Reveling in both the act of painting and the act of looking, Grabner’s work rewards a prolonged glance.
The show closes April 3rd.
– D. Creahan
Michelle Grabner [Exhibition Site]