Absent Work: New Pieces by Stephen Walters
Opening: Dec 4th, 2010. 5-7pm.
Commonspace, 2226 Whittier blvd., Los Angeles, Ca, 90023.
The paintings of Stephen Walters can be situated somewhere between the work of Daniel Buren and the notion of painting as sign, and the performative practices of Yves Klein and the idea of painting as trace or residue. However, Walter's unique contribution to the discourse of contemporary art has been to marry the effects of naturally occurring phenomena with abstract painting in a way that expands the trajectory of process-based art. A brief summary of his influences would have to include the formal strategies of the Surface and Support group, the rigorous conceptualism of Richard Jackson and the illusionistic inventiveness of contemporary painters like Tauba Auerbach and Ryan Sullivan. The work of these artists and others like them opened the horizon for Walter's to negotiate a space between systemicity and entropy that challenges us to rethink what it means to make a picture about the 'natural' world. His most recent series of paintings, attended by the addition of an obstructive mid-century block wall sculpture, might even be called sun-prints or nature-screens of a sort.
To the casual viewer these iconic single tone canvases arrive devoid of touch and without an identifiable logic other than as a repository of the informel or what the philosopher and surrealist George Bataille referred to as 'formlessness'. Yet, for those deeply engaged in the discourse of painting these works also challenge the presuppositions of an entire genealogy of endgame politics in the visual arts. While twentieth century painting found itself in thrall to the void, absence and flatness, Walter's work reintroduces us to a subtle poetics of the faded, the imprint and the ghost image that connects with experiences of passage that are regularly overlooked in a world of hyper vivid media. It is in this sense that Walter's 'absent work' courts a rare synchronicity between being formally sophisticated and politically concrete at a time in contemporary art where complexity and commitment don't always go hand in hand.
For more information and images see the previous post: "Steve Walters Before the Show".