"New Economy Painting," Feb. 16-Mar. 14, 2002, at Acme Gallery, 6150 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, Ca. 90048.
"New Economy Painting," a group exhibition organized by L.A. curator Nowell Karten at Acme Gallery in West Hollywood, brings together ten artists, each of whom uses the computer as a tool to expand and re-imagine the mythology of traditional painting technique.
Pedro Barbeito's Solar Storm inhabits what could be called a strange and fantastical realm between virtual space and real time. The large, oval painting is covered with a mosaic of tiny pieces of red plastic and punctuated by geographic glyphs, and holds in its center an Apple iBook computer that showcases on its monitor a picture of an ever-spinning earth.
Shirley Kaneda finds a spare and elegant imagery in the compressive effects of the computer screen. Her painting in acrylic and oil, titled Peculiar Anomalies, uses notions of digital information for her abstract effects; the floating purple mass that inhabits the right corner of the plane could be a wandering vibration encroaching upon the soft blue facade.
Carl Fudge uses a computer to dissect and recombine graphic information from the real world, processing figuration into abstraction. His painting MSK-008 constructs a delicate and winsome webbing of lines, intricately woven and balanced. The piece is a kind of "castle" of refined space.
Adam Ross paints an internet-based world that contains fields within fields and downloaded scenes within scenes. His untitled painting, done in oil and alkyd on wood, is infused with its own architectural familiarity wherein imagined space engenders a strange deja vu.
Ricci Albenda uses the computer as a tool to create his topological constructions of painted aluminum. In the work here, titled Little, Albenda distorts the picture plane with tremendous comedic effect, elongating the otherwise unassuming "little" word.
James Esber's piece Rabbit Talk is darkly seductive. In it we see a bizarre hermaphrodite-like creature, pants down, bare breasts to the wind, attempting communion with a demented rabbit. Huck Finn on acid? Esber says that "expressive distortions," when done on a computer, are "mathematical, not just subjective. Once scanned, an image can be altered in any number of ways and sent twirling through space."
Chris Finley's Couplink Creature Polarcoord is a Baconesque sweep of intense, unmitigated movement, a gesture into endlessness, purples and browns spiraling in discordant patterns. Finley downloads source imagery from the net, and "shapes are stretched, cloned, rotated and combined until 'something emerges'."
By contrast, Jeff Elrod uses a simple computer drawing program to make lines and forms within color fields, and then reproduces them large scale in paint on canvas. Elrod's Reflector is quiet and contained, and celebrates the spare and timeless moment.
Similiarly, Kevin Appel's Window Picture 4 gives the suggestion of a natural world drained of color, substituting in its place paleness recalibrated to a subtler esthetic. The computer, Appel says, allows him to "see an entire architectural space reflected in each work."
It's a nice contrast to Greg Rose's hyperreal blue flowers that stand as strange emissaries of otherworldly possibility. For Rose, the computer provides a bridge between depth and flatness, between representation and the real.
The show closed on Mar. 14, however, many of the pieces sold at good prices ($10,000 and up), attesting to both Nowell Karten's keen eye and a certain hunger among collectors for painting that reflects its own time.