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Ed Moses: ASAP and Friends    Sep 9 - Oct 8, 2011


OPENING RECEPTION: Friday, September 9, 5-8 P.M.

GALLERY TALK: Ed Moses, A Conversation: Saturday, September 10, 3 P.M.

Charlotte Jackson Fine Art is pleased to present new works by consummate painter Ed Moses with the exhibition, ASAP & Friends starting September 9 and running through October 8. An opening reception with the artist will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, September 9. There will be a Gallery Talk on Saturday, September 10, at 3 p.m. The gallery is located at 554 South Guadalupe Street, in the Railyard Art District.

From a distance there is something very familiar about the works included in ASAP & Friends. Rectangles of primary colors floating on white ground or edged in black tape-line—at first glance you might be walking into an exhibition of De Stijl paintings by van Doesburg and Mondrian. But take a step closer and all of those symmetries, the perfect edges and still, timeless flat surfaces disappear and any expectations of the familiar dissolve.

Next to a canvas of clean, smooth red, blue, black, and yellow squares is another where the echoing surface has shattered, the paint fractured into an eruption of cracks like desert earth in the sun. Some of the surfaces are softly crackled, the fissures running underneath in fine patterns. In other pieces the cracks heave and buckle like earthquake faults.

In his fifty plus decades as a painter, Ed Moses has been called many things: a painter’s painter, a virtuoso, a master of mutation. He has little interest in discussing the theories and strategies that influence contemporary painting, nor in the economic pressures put onto artists today to continually reproduce the same kind of painting for a profit. Moses’ work has been evolving, or rather ‘mutating’ radically for decades.

The key to this is his fundamental discipline and ethos: Moses never stops painting. He has described himself as, “a fisherman in the studio, casting out lines.”

The origin of the current series on exhibit in ASAP & Friends was a book of reproductions of the work of Theo van Doesburg, Dutch founder and leader of the radical De Stijl movement. Influenced by Kandinsky, van Doesburg moved away from representation to a belief in the white canvas as a solemn ground for spiritual expression. His works, along with those of the more famous Mondrian, became iconographic of a kind of pure geometrical abstraction.

Moses began by simply reproducing the paintings in the book, using oil on canvas and tape which was sometimes left, sometimes removed. But they weren’t quite right. As Moses’ says, “The surfaces bothered me. They were too literal a connection to van Doesburg.” Moses wanted to use the reproductions as a set of parameters from within which he could expand, create something new. He recalled seeing early Mondrian’s on exhibit, the surfaces fissured with age, and set about finding a way to create those kinds of cracks in the studio.

The results are fascinating. The juxtaposition of smooth and fractured initiates a dialogue not only among the pieces themselves, but between the work they are referencing (those original van Doesburg’s, alive on museum walls and in our own visual vocabulary) and all the span of time and art between. Nearly a century has passed and not only have many of those original works cracked with age, but perhaps in that span something of the spiritual purity of the original De Stijl movement has fractured as well. The sum experience of ASAP & Friends is a kind of gentle De Stijl apocalypse.

But mimesis and mutation aside, the paintings fascinate as paintings. It is impossible not to be caught up in them, to walk from piece to piece comparing and absorbing the blocks of color and contrast. You cannot help but stare closely, study the fissures of a yellow rectangle, the random patterns of line and shadow. The exhibition, ASAP & Friends, at Charlotte Jackson Fine Art, allows an opportunity for viewers to get a glimpse of Moses’ latest catch … before he casts out another line.

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