Untitled, 2008

This Saturday was good day for seeing art. My friend and I made it up to mid-town, lightly considering giving the Miracle Mile Art Walk (monthly, every third Saturday) Holly trolley a spin, but then couldn’t give up our southern Cali addiction to our separate $4-a-gallon-gas-guzzling vehicles. We hit Richard Telles, 6150, and Circus, with lunch at El Coyote inbetween.

The art prize of the day, and maybe even so far this year goes to Andy Collins at Marc Foxx.

The biggest surprise was walking into Marc Foxx and seeing a dozen large PASTEL paintings hanging on the wall. Then I started looking and looking – and realized with delight that these paintings by a Brooklyn-based 32-year old guy could withstand a tremendous amount of looking. Part of that comes from the fact that my eyes couldn’t get get a handle on what they were seeing, and my mind kept insisting that there was something missing. The large amorphous shapes in pale greens and flesh tones were sometimes edged with vibrant colored lines that were shaded just enough to appear purposeful; however, the shapes themselves didn’t hold still and indeed often faded almost imperceptibly into negative space.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that there were large portions of the painting missing and that though the paintings were full of paint that they were somehow about absence… and sex. And as my friend pointed out, the lines themselves had a kind of crackling lightening energy that was holding the painting together. The lines too, quivered towards representation, but then went nowhere – and sometimes not even to the edge of the canvas. But strangely, the overall mood was not a nervous one, but more of a slow afternoon delight without caffeine.

On closer inspection, it seemed that entire canvas was painted with meticulous brushstrokes. Collins had gone to great length to convey an airbrushed smoothness, which was heightened with his use of car-paint- smooth alkyds. It was then that we discovered that Collins had also gone to great lengths to conceal the origins of his paintings. The gallery attendant informed us that Collins typically begins by making a collage from magazines – “Porno mags?” I interrupted.

“Well, yes, sometimes. And fashion magazines too. But he doesn’t feel that comes across in his work.”

Ah, I thought. Now that made more sense. The absence of shape was coming from the negative space of collaged images that had been manipulated – and I started to see taut pink plasticized flesh, but to reduce these paintings to abstract sex would take away the pleasure of the technique. I can’t wait to see what this guy can do when he comes to terms with how much erotica comes through in his work.

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