Rob De Oude Solo Exhibition of New Works / Proximities
Project Room: Alex Paik / Paper Constructs
May 3, 2014 through June 21, 2014
Opening Reception: Saturday May 3, 2014 7pm-10pm
Hours: Saturdays 1-4pm & Wednesday 5-7pm or by appointment
Guest Spot at THE REINSTITUTE is proud to present Proximities, a solo exhibition of new works by Rob de Oude. In the Project Space, Alex Paik’s Paper Constructs will be on display. Both exhibits will open Saturday May 3, 2014 with the artists in attendance from 7pm to 10pm. The works will be on view through June 21, 2014.
Rob de Oude / Proximities
The functions of the healthy eye are predictable, reliable and efficient. Some postulate it to be the sense via which we gather upwards of 90% of our data about the world – meaning that its consistent performance is the principle criteria for our plans and decisions, from the most trivial right up matters of life and death. For all its nearly mechanical precision, however, the world presents certain phenomena that it simply cannot process without difficulty, disorientation and error. The moiré pattern is a prime example of such an exception – a notorious historical bugbear for textile designers, photographers, commercial printers, and computer programmers. When two or more patterns of similar constitution are laid over one another slightly off register, it creates a dilemma that the otherwise indefatigable eye can’t process. The result is a kind of displeasure that some characterize as pain. This particular exception to the otherwise routine rules of visual perception is the space in which Rob de Oude’s current work thrives.
Pain, however metaphorical, would seem to be a dicey place for an artist to begin. Unless one is either a sado-masochist or straining to make a socio-political statement, it can be safely assumed that aesthetic or intellectual pleasure is the natural objective for such a project. But pain, harnessed and edited by an eye and hand that’s astute, constitutes a kind of visual pleasure of the most unexpected and thrilling kind – tantamount to the type of pleasure one might experience on an especially tall roller-coaster, or at a genuinely scary horror film, or while eating an impossibly hot pepper. De Oude manages to turn pain into a kind of manic exuberance – his pictures are aesthetically and emotionally challenging, but at the same time infectious, urgent, and slyly witty.
The question, then, is how does de Oude affect this pain-as-pleasure conversion? The answer might be found in Ernst Gombrich’s The Sense of Order, in which the author suggests that the key to the enduring and cross-cultural appeal of pattern in art and design resides in the make-up of the mind itself. The human brain, Gombrich says, is built to solve problems – at root, the problems associated with survival. When the brain is at rest, this urge doesn’t subside, which provides a reliable explanation for the appeal of crossword puzzles and other concentration- driven activities that would upon first analysis seem at odds with the concept of leisure time. Pattern too easily understood, like a checkerboard, soon results in boredom. Chaos, while momentarily compelling, doesn’t present the active brain with a soluble problem, which in the end has the same result: boredom. Like the great arabesques of the best Islamic pattern designers, de Oude’s pictures present the viewer with something intuitively understandable as a repeating system, but the system refuses to give up its secret as to exactly what the repeating unit is, and where it begins and ends. The variety that de Oude routinely achieves in his fields means that even smaller scale pictures can be explored and revisited again and again, each time yielding new visual pleasures.
De Oude’s means are deceptively simple. Two, and occasionally three colors are arranged in sets of stripes of equal width and spacing. At least one set runs parallel to two of the picture’s framing edges, and subsequent groups are overlaid slightly off of the horizontal or vertical axis. The number of sets of stripes involves minimal planning – each one is a response to the previous group. De Oude proceeds in this way until he determines the picture is finished, which is a decision that is purely intuitive and aesthetically derived. Some paintings take shape in a relatively smaller number of passes, others are more densely layered and create surprising “artifacts” – the term used for the odd, unaccountable hiccups that begin to turn up in a heavily edited Photoshop file. When the color groupings have strong value contrast, the resulting grid crackles with aggressive energy (“pain”). Closer-valued color groupings result in a more atmospheric space – the effect is chromatically lush and painterly even though the execution is hard-edged.
The spatial organization created by these overlapping groups of stripes is unitary, but also filled with incident. The all-overness suggests Pollock, but the individual events that occur within de Oude’s matrix are quite different than Pollock’s loops and skeins. De Oude’s web organizes itself into smaller pattern groupings that momentarily repeat, but ultimately break down only to form new groups that set off the same false alarm. The sub-groups often seem to be melting in and out of one another, like a fade from one scene in a film to another. These phenomena are pointedly exemplified in the impressive and always shifting Proximities and Parameters from 2014: The overarching grid forms small clusters of squares (more accurately described as parallelograms) which organize themselves into four-unit groups, then nine, and occasionally into extended horizontal configurations, and, on the right side, into long verticals scrolls. The logic is relentless, and yet the picture is filled with surprise.
De Oude’s fellow Dutchman Willem de Kooning once commented that the true subject of abstract painting is space. I’ve always thought this quote was a simple and wonderful antidote to the idea that abstract painting was “painting-about-nothing,” and saved one from having to rhetorically draw the contentious and subtle distinction between content and subject matter. De Oude’s pictures are above all else a paean to pictorial space. His space evinces a certain tradition in painting – from Cezanne through Cubism to Pollock – but also embraces more than a century’s worth of technology, from early half-tone printing through to the ubiquitous screens of present-day computers and handheld devices. Most interestingly, the paintings report back about the instances when all of these technologies, old and new, are not functioning exactly as planned. This report isn’t offered as a dire critique, however – quite the opposite, it shows the extent to which visual pleasure can be found in the most unlikely places. De Oude finds a quirky kind of beauty in particular corners of the dominant landscape of the 21st have always admired and painted the landscape of their own eras. The principal and compelling difference in de Oude’s landscapes, however, is that they have essentially nothing to do with nature.
Rob de Oude has been educated in painting, sculpture and art history at the Hoge School voor de Kunsten in Amsterdam and SUNY Purchase, NY. De Oude has shown recently in the US, Europe and Asia, notably at: Galerie Gourvennec Ogor in Marseille, FR, Storefront Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY, McKenzie Fine Arts in New York, NY and BRIC Rotunda in Brooklyn, NY. He has participated in several art fairs in New York, Miami and Paris and has been featured a.o. in the NY Post, L Magazine, Sculpture Magazine, Artnet Magazine, NYArts Magazine, The New Criterion, Capital New York, Bushwick Daily, The James Kalm Report and Brooklyn Magazine. As a founding member, de Oude is currently co-director of Parallel Art Space in Queens, NY. He lives and paints in subsequently Brooklyn and Queens, NY.
ALEX PAIK Paper Constructs
May 3, 2014 through June 21, 2014
In articulatory phonetics, a consonant is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial closure of the vocal tract. The word consonant comes from Latin oblique stem cōnsonant-, from cōnsonāns (littera) ”sounding-together (letter)”, a calque of Greek σύμφωνονsýmphōnon (plural sýmphōna). In Paik’s work, the relationship between the cerebral and personal are junctures of such harmonious construct; it’s between these ambiguous states – the sculpted and the painted, the physical and metaphysical – that language is formed. The works are derived from a sense of composition between the ambient characteristic that colour has on space and the physicality of form.
“These paper constructions mimic the way that the voices of a fugue are continuously repeated, transposed, inverted, and folded into themselves. Each piece focuses on one unit as its subject which is then repeated in different configurations as the piece grows. I use repetition not so much as a compositional device, but more as a way to explore and maximize the possibilities of the unit.” Alex Paik
Alex Paik was born in 1981 in Oxnard California and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. His work has been exhibited recently at Millsaps College, Space 4 Art: San Diego, Nancy Margolis Gallery, and Parallel Art Space. Recent solo shows include Recapitulation Bop at Gallery Joe, Start to Move at Tiger Strikes Asteroid Philadelphia, and Polyphonic Improvisation at U Turn Art Space. Paik’s work has been in several art fairs, including Drawing Now: Paris, Pulse:New York and Miami, artMRKT San Francisco, and Texas Contemporary. He is currently represented by Gallery Joe in Philadelphia and is the director of Tiger Strikes Asteroid New York, an artist-run exhibition space in Bushwick.