Garth Weiser (2011)
May 6 – June 25, 2011
It could be hazardous to get too close; it could cause eye twitching or eyelid twitches, a sensation that occurs regularly in cities, where sufferers are frequently exposed to stress, fatigue, eyestrain, caffeine, alcohol, dryness, nutritional imbalance and allergens.
It’s by now cliché to refer to a restless eye that is generally overstimulated by the urban environment. Think here of the city as an optical artifact.
But a spasmodic eye that suffers from uncontrollable fits is a medical condition not a social one, and these paintings tend to provoke and evoke this physiological reaction.
Optical vibrations have an auditory equivalent as well, what the late composer Maryanne Amacher referred to as “ear dances.” When performed or played in the proper context, Amacher’s “third ear” compositions stimulate tones that come from within the listener’s inner ear. The act of looking at such densely layered interference patterns provokes a similar response from the eye.
At stake here is not necessarily an oscillation between figure and ground, but rather a steady vibrational hum that gives visual shape to an auditory effect. The image it creates is almost always a cinematic one that flickers and flashes.
Maybe these could also be called oscillations or electronic evocations of sound’s reality.
In order to underscore the compatibility with metaphors related to sound, some reference should also be made to television. Interference patterns have a quality of white noise.
The outcome of two or more grids overlaid at an angle, such paintings become a repository for visual noise. Decay is a theme that appears throughout. The use of copper leaf also reflects this impulse.
In some instances, a patterned image is cut away from the surface at the end of the process. It’s a style of surface treatment that undermines the depth of an image.
Oil on canvas should always be used dishonestly. The paintings’ surfaces are most often the result of an improper application of the medium.
No gesture or declaration about painting is ever grand enough to trust as entirely sincere. Consider it to be a sampling of art historical tropes and styles without succumbing to the trappings of cultural cannibalism.
They borrow as much technique and style from sign painters as they do from the history of twentieth-century art.
The images resemble fragments of a larger whole and ask to be viewed from a position that sits outside their immediate architectural framework.
This is a problem that sign makers tackled when painted billboards had more currency. Even today, the incomplete surfaces and partially rendered forms of advertising billboards are rarely made available to pedestrians and passersby who only see these images from great enough distances to maintain the illusion of wholeness.
Optical illusions are also often achieved by the use of halftone dots, which function as a kind of photographic screen or veil through which visual information is passed and eventually apprehended from a sufficient enough distance.
Striated patterns never unify in the same way and because of this apprehension isn’t the best word to describe what occurs.
These images break apart the more they are studied. They aren’t like the autostereograms that were popularized in the 1990s by Magic Eye Inc.
It’s another byproduct of material ineptitude and the inability of oil paint to maintain a clean line or hard edge. These revel in the misapplication of formal and historical baggage.
From a cartoon published by Barry Fantoni in The Listener on 29 July 1971: “[Bridget Riley’s] paintings have always been my bête noire et blanche.”
Unlike those of Riley and Victor Vasarely, I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting to wear one of these paintings.
Sullied is a good word to describe them. They are often composed of garish hues and disagreeable patterns that insist on being viewed from a distance.
Their surfaces are more like Op art gone wrong.
It was only a matter of time before Op art was co-opted by the worlds of fashion and advertising, which armed its detractors with enough ammunition to ensure that the fad suffered a critical fate worse than death.
In the years that have unfolded since, painting has had to curb its tendencies toward visual pleasure and maintain a safe distance between a painted surface and its viewer.
Aram Moshayedi Los Angeles, 2011
Garth Weiser (b. 1979, Helena, Montana) lives and works in New York. Recent exhibitions include White Flag Projects, St. Louis, Missouri (solo), Big New Field: Artists in the Cowboys Stadium Art Program, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, and Informal Relations, Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, Indiana. Weiser is currently included in Seeing is a Kind of Thinking: A Jim Nutt Companion, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois (group) on view through May 29, 2011. Past exhibitions include Destroy Athens, Athens Biennial of Contemporary Art, Greece (2007) and Greater New York, PS1 MoMA, Long Island City, New York (2005). He will be included in Expanded Painting International, Prague Biennial, Czech Republic, May 19 – September 11, 2011 and will present a new project for LAND (Los Angeles Nomadic Division) in Nothing Beside Remains, Marfa, Texas, September 2011 – January 2012.