El Mac and Damon Soule at Joshua Liner
October 12th, 2010 by Chloe Gallagher
Opening this Thursday October 14th at Joshua Liner gallery in NYC are side by side solo shows by two of America’s brightest talents. In Gallery 1 will be Miles “El Mac” MacGregor’s first solo show with Joshua Liner, “The Humble and the Sublime.” In Gallery 2, Damon Soule’s second JL solo show “Tessellating Pigments.” Opening reception is Thursday from 6-9pm. Both artists will be in attendance.
Working in acrylic on panel, spray paint on canvas, and mixed media on paper, El Mac’s gallery-size works echo many of the themes, styles, and techniques seen in his large-scale mural projects. Foremost is the dynamic relationship of figure to ground. Inspired by cultures around the globe—from Mexico to Thailand—Mac generates an endless vocabulary of graphic patterns that serve as an active, signifying backdrop to lovingly detailed and humane portraits. Children, women, and respected elderly figures (often depicted in monochrome) are all featured amid colorful fields of repeating marks—doodles, graffiti, even proto- language characters—which are transformed into vibrant overall pattern.
Against this sea of marks, the carefully rendered and shaded figures take on added poignancy as all-too-human subjects caught in their “cultural context.” In the works omprising The Humble and Sublime, this mark-making mania infiltrates the figure itself, creeping across expanses of skin to infuse these subjects with an electric hum. They exist in multiple states—as portrait subjects with individual identities and as picture surfaces recording the pervasive creep of culture’s stamp. An Arizona native, Mac draws inspiration from the surrounding Mexican and Chicano culture of the American Southwest, as well as religious art, pinup art, graffiti, and a wide range of canonical artists, including Caravaggio, Mucha, and Vermeer. In the late ’90s Mac began to paint large, technicolor aerosol versions of classic paintings by European masters. This led to a commission in 2003 by the Groeninge Museum in Bruges, Belgium, to paint interpretations of classic Flemish Primitive paintings from the museum’s collection—a peerless example of “the humble and sublime.”
Working in acrylic on wood and on canvas, Soule’s paintings depict fantastic atmospheres of ambiguous makeup and density, which dance with hovering volumes. These “forms” are primarily geometric—triangular, rectilinear—that shift between 2-D and 3-D figuration. Initially flat, the forms are spurred to “tessellate,” evolving into diamonds, cubes, etc., that fan out in all planar directions. In combination, they create soaring arcs that appear both decorative and menacing. Like screen “grabs” from a video game, these views explode with pattern, virtuosic manipulations of perspective, and lively colors. The cropped views hint at larger dimensions beyond the picture plane, heightening optical tension. They also suggest a parallel with “virtual space” and the collective sensation of worlds just beyond our keyboards. In Photonic Wave Collapse, the eponymous event is depicted as rows of exploding gemstones—brilliantly colored, these faceted forms blow outward in arcs of light and force. Below this disintegrating grid are deeper layers of pattern and atmosphere, a dark underworld that is difficult to penetrate or decode. No less complex, Portalhedron is more tranquil in tone, with pellucid ripples of water-like pattern that descend toward and encircle a centrally placed light source. More gemstone-facet patterns array the outer edges of the image, shifting in and out of flatness and dimensionality, coming toward or retreating from the viewer. This ambiguity is key to the dynamism in Soule’s mysterious “abstractions.”
Joshua Liner Gallery
548 W 28th St. 3rd Floor
New York, New York 10001