The second thought I wanted to bring to the fore (see my previous posts here and here) is the issue of the empty square on the wall. I was not privy to all of the correspondence and decision making process involving Leah Raintree’s lack of participation in the exhibit. My comment is not about this. But her absence brings up an interesting issue as her recent work involves photographs of rocks, which I understand she had submitted to the exhibit. Naturally something relatively specific is implied by the use of the term “abstraction” in the title of the exhibition but I don’t recall any specification as to the degree of abstraction in our correspondence prior to the exhibit. It seems to me her submission is a really interesting move toward parsing (or blurring) the line between representation and abstraction.
This, like the previous thought, is still rolling around in my head and will probably stay with me for a while. With that in mind, I’m not sure that there is a train of thought to what follows, so bear with me.
There is something to the fact that my beginning drawing students struggle to draw common objects such as a bottle but I can give them a rock or a crumpled piece of paper, objects whose varying and unfamiliar forms defy simplification, and they are forced to see anew.
This issue is probably also on my mind in light of the Taking Shape show at Standpipe Gallery, a small group show that deals with this very issue. All of the work in the show calls on representation and abstraction, much of them never falling to far into one.
Much of the work in Gifting Abstraction seems on it’s surface nonrepresentational but as I’ve thought about this issue I’ve realized just how much many if not all of the works rely on this balance between, if not representational, at least what is definable and what is ambiguous or unknowable. The bow in Melanie Crader’s work acts as an abstract gesture and a real thing. The hammered out void in Matthew Deleget’s panel liberalizes the abstract blackness that may have existed prior. Brent Hallard’s painting is derived from a perspective drawing of a cube. John Hawke’s painting reminds one of a landscape in an 80’s arcade game or perhaps the lines on the court of some unknown variation of basketball. Among others.
I guess I’d be curious to hear from others about how they navigate what increasingly seems to me to be a spectrum rather than a dichotomy between representation and abstraction.