It’s a natural impulse to try and make sense of the past year by any possible means, and the current string of shows on view across the art world featuring reflective works, photo archives, and other modes of documentation as expression seems to speak to that phenomenon. Case in point: artist Wade Guyton’s current exhibition at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles, a selection of pieces that feature the artist’s signature approach towards the construction of the canvas, while drawing in particular on images archived over the past year of Covid-19 quarantine and recovery.
The show, titled The Undoing, is collage by another method, taking a range of headlines and images and affixing them to the flat surface of a reprinted canvas, akin to so many of Guyton’s precious works. Images include canvases lying on the floor of the artist’s Bowery studio, news from the New York Times website, his recent retrospective at the Museum Ludwig, layered bitmaps, and the artist’s temperature. The works, by dint of their materials, become a densely layered experience of the past year in as many data points as possible, and rather than seeking to narrativize the experience of this global pandemic, the work instead turns the last year into a series of externalized moments, frozen in time and locked into dialogue with a range of other sets of data. Rather than relay on the artist to frame his experience, to provide subjective modes of interpretation and structure, a structure emerges of its own accord.
Guyton’s work makes much of this sense of time and space, and seems to double down on it through the sheer scale of his production. The density of each work is paralleled by the sheer volume of the works on view, and the moments where the artist’s own domestic interiors seem to merge with external landscapes, photographs and text. Considered alongside the landscape of digital media, the show makes for a striking portrait of the universal aspects of the pandemic and its aftereffects, a feeling of suspension within our own close quarters, even as the headlines continued to run, and the world continued to turn outside our windows.
The show closes August 14th.
– D. Creahan
Wade Guyton: The Undoing [Exhibition Site]