On view this month, 303 Gallery presents a new body of work by Rodney Graham, a body of paintings that expand on the artist’s already expansive and exploratory body of work. Working since the early 1980s across the disciplines of video, painting, sculpture, photography, performance, installation, and music, Graham’s work stages layered narratives suffused with cultural and historical signifiers. Here, he turns that same notion towards the painted canvas, using his understanding and utilization of varied materials and modes to create densely layered compositions that blend together a studied sense of the art historical with the artist’s own techniques.
For this occasion Graham presents a series of new large-scale paintings – bold, abstract works filled with movement and depth, and imbued with reflexive details from Graham’s own history of painting. Contorted shapes, dots, and lines and blocks of rich, natural hues are contrasted with bright pastels, resulting in compositions that nod to Graham’s varied interests, and his sense of humor. “I have been painting, or experimenting with painting, for about 20 years,” he says. “These paintings, all oil and sand on linen, evolved out of prop paintings which reimagined modernist works from the late forties, which I did for my photographic work Vacuuming the Gallery 1949 (2018) from my last show at 303 Gallery.”
The new paintings employ something of the formal vocabulary of these props, yet combined that mode of work with a series of experimentations and evolutions in his practice that he has developed and honed over several decades of work. Using a computer to trace and layer, sketch and iterate on these compositions, the work becomes both a study in the history of cubism and abstraction, and equally one of concatenation, adding and adding while balancing the surface of the image until a final work emerges, ready to “print.”
The artist’s work is on view through April 1st.
– D. Creahan
Rodney Graham at 303 [Exhibition Site]