Artist Reception: Sunday, 5/18/14, 3-6pm
DRAWING ROOMS in downtown Jersey City continues to fill its ten gallery rooms with innovative new art by area artists. AUTOMATIC / SYSTEMATIC: Making and Breaking the Rules of Drawing and Painting, curated by James Pustorino and Anne Trauben, features work by Megan Klim, Giovanna Cecchetti, Jill Scipione, Maria Pavlovska, Gregory Stone, Peter Bill, Hector Romero, Gilbert Giles, Len Merlo, Barbara Stork, Andrew Sullivan, Iris Kufert-Rivo, Tim Main, Alan Walker, Tom McGlynn and John Bender.
Full of color self-contained
Tuned and gentle to your vibes”
These lines from the incredibly catchy 1973 song Dancing Machine by the Jackson 5 offer a surprisingly on-target description of our current exhibition at DRAWING ROOMS. All the artists in AUTOMATIC / SYSTEMATIC work in a truly self-contained method. They may sometimes incorporate influences from the outside world, but each of their unique worlds of images is created by their own systems and run by their own rules and we can only look on with some amount of wonder, possibly awe, and try to comprehend and hopefully, experience, the reality they describe. How these artists create their works is essential to their over-all impact and meaning.
Automatic drawing refers to a free-form method of image-making developed by the Surrealist artists in the 1920s as a method of unlocking the ideas and images in the subconscious. Artists such as Salvador Dali, Andre Masson and Max Ernst among others pushed themselves to draw freely, sometimes with eyes closed and with no specific subject matter. Like stream-of-consciousness writing, this type of drawing opened up evocative new directions in art, and influenced many future artists, including several in our current exhibit. Systematic although the idea of systems-art (using preset or even automated methods to produce artworks) became widely practiced and discussed in the 1960s and 70s, one can say that artists have always been developing their own particular sets of rules for creating their art.
Many types of systems (use of geometry, color patterns and choices, structures, repetition, mathematics, mapping among others) and processes (including stitching, drafting, stenciling, stamping, erasing, effacing) appear in the work of the artists in our show. When composing an image, artists are faced with a vast array of choices, tools that can be used, components that can be added, structures that can be formed. The artists create limits for themselves, rules they must follow in order to create an image-but then because they are the creators, they have the power to distort and break these rules and structures as well. The tension between the constraints and order of their systems and their erratic or exuberant departures from order often produce exciting results.
In our exhibition, AUTOMATIC / SYSTEMATIC, we look at the boundaries, both the limited and the limitless processes, used to create visual meaning and artistic impact.
Giovanna Cecchetti's beautifully complex arrangements of stitches of thread, circles within circles within squares, stains, squiggles, striations, swipes all layer together to map out a delicate mystic terrain. Megan Klim's TEST PREP works cover high school standardized test sheets with oil paint, beeswax and shellac, sealing them to the surfaces of school-desk drawers, resulting in boxes reminiscent of hives or ant farms that suggest science, nature and industry all at once. Jill Scipione's large, gridded box drawings have an entirely different effect; their monumental forms can describe a network of empty space or a stack of solid light and earth. With his wild, hypnotic colors and intense, mutating imagery, Gregory Stones' drawings spring from the automatic method, his images seeming to evolve and melt away. Peter Bill crafts perfect, brilliantly shining systems of geometric form. One of his newest paintings consists of well over 400 squares of individual colors. Len Merlo's pastel drawings flow with curving organic forms that seem completely internal and intuitive but derive from mapping land-forms. Iris Kufert-Rivo sprays, pours and stencils layers of images to produce the dense, kaleidoscopic butterfly patterns that fill the paintings in our exhibit. Macedonian artist, Maria Pavlovska, spreads out a series of scrawled plans across the gallery wall: drawings and writings that read like a visual diary of the artists concepts and inner conflicts. Barbara Stork's leaf-shaped cut-outs are crammed with stream-of-consciousness narrative taken from news radio and turbulently warping imagery. Tim Main's schematic drawings seem like the work of an mechanical or electrical engineer, but the beauty of his order is put to the service of art, not industry, and strive for a deeper meaning.