February 2 – April 6, 2018
Opening Reception February 2, 6-9pm at Radiator Arts
10-61 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, New York
Loren Britton, Maria Dimanshtein, Nicholas Fraser, JF Lynch and Andrew Prayzner
Curated by Patrick Neal
Different media comprising the visual arts like painting, drawing or sculpture have their own constitutive language. One
can list off, color, line, value, texture, viscosity, composition as formal components with which an image reveals itself. So
too, does literature in the form of morphology, syntax, phonetics and semantics. During the heights of Modernism it was
sometimes considered a fraught ground to mix these two distinct systems, diluting one at the expense of the other. In our
more permissive art climate of the twenty tens, this sort of cross pollination between words and pictures is not only
considered healthy, but essential to convey a climate of image saturation, global and digital networks, and physical and
virtual modes of representation.
The aesthetic coexistence of words and pictures dates back to ancient cultures and reached a high-water mark with
Conceptual Art of the sixties where linguistics sought to elevate idea over form. Text-based art of that period traded in
philosophical puzzles that sought a distillation aimed at revealing the true essence of art. In the twenty-first century, this
approach has proven to be too reductive, and the purview of words has come full circle, serving as verbiage, image and
substrate. Without the imposition of a doctrinaire ideology, text based visual art straddles abstraction, figuration and
conceptualism and the studio practice of artists cuts across a broad swathe of art history and media. Words and pictures
are mined from the contemporary urban landscape as text messages, Instagram posts, Google and dark web searches,
photos, research, ephemera and taxonomy, grant applications, philosophy, fake news, protest banners, computer bots,
poetry, prose, novellas, pictographs, logos, graffiti, classifieds, dating apps, computer code, the Second Amendment,
junk mail, phishing spam, fairy tales and cartoons.
Andrew Prayzner draws on sourced images like snapshots or postcards as subjects to ground his own paintings, then
disrupts his compositions by scrawling words across the surfaces. Pictures of ambiguous locales or clichéd sunsets are
paired with sharp, clear phrases; words like ESTEEM, DEVIL, FROG N SCORPION stylishly unfurl across the field of the
painting. Private axioms writ large are mingled with hand painted, albeit sourced imagery, suggesting a quest for sincerity
in the midst of a simulated mediascape. An authentic attempt at feeling and communication struggles against an ocean of
mass production and the shortcomings and abuse of language to convey truth.
Loren Britton massages the poetic associations between words, paint and paper, into abstract works that tenderly
contemplate the gender fluid body. Distinctly aware of the symbols and codification of sexual signification, Britton
mingles color, texture and material with sign language, poetry, and notation in sensually evocative ways. Working within
the spaces of shifting venues, time constraints, budgets and current events, they embrace a lo-fi craft and stay open to
creative happenstance. For Night Regulation , Britton has created a site-specific installation, where cursive hand written
text, absorbed into paper pulp sculptures is set against a wall covering that utilizes the unique confines of the gallery.
The attempt to ignite romance through public message boards or dating apps, makes its way into Nicholas Fraser’s
Left Hanging series. Fraser, long interested in the variety of soulless junk communication (spam, phishing, bots, Internet
dating) that pervades our lives, juxtaposes these with soulful attempts at human connection. Working with hanging
banners, he cuts personal intimate correspondence into the surfaces that are equally sad and hilarious. Lit from above,
and using warped letterforms and distorted blocks of text, his black, tyvek banners cast shadows with a permanence that
rivals the fragility of the conversation. Other banners advertising Rap, Reggae and Bollywood performance are overlaid
with letterforms in a “Tower of Babel” style mishmash that confuses public and private expression.
“Night Regulation” are the words found on signs along city streets warning drivers someone is watching and that their
cars could be towed in the wee hours if they violate parking restrictions. It’s also a delightfully grandiose man-made
proclamation, as if humans can control the heavens. This sort of hubristic ambiguity is not lost on the artist Maria
Dimanshtein who likes to confront viewers with direct, existential truisms and dry humor. Working in a monochromatic
palette of black, white and silver, Dimanshtein arranges letters, words and phrases in sequential grids that read like prose
poems or pages from children’s books. Assembled in bookform, she arranges words next to symbols to convey the
mundane and cosmic aspects of the human condition.
JF Lynch teases words into pictographs and drawings into primal utterances, digging for the precise point where the act
of writing becomes the act of drawing. His works have an assertive physicality sometimes originating in studies from
polymer clay letter maquettes; hybrids of art and text. Lynch is attuned to the creative revelations dislodged from idle
wandering, disorientation, free association, brainstorming, and multi-tasking and organically cycles among charcoal on
paper, modeled clay, photography, mural, relief assemblage and video. These different processes and materials literally
rub off on one another and Lynch’s large word drawings and sculptures dominate physical space, removing the barriers
between writing, drawing, sculpture and site-specific installation.
Patrick Neal is a NYC based curator, arts writer and painter. In 2016, he organized Beautiful Object: Upsetting Still Life
at Jeffrey Leder Gallery in Queens, NY, a show of contemporary still life painting and sculpture. He served as curator of
the Chocolate Factory’s art gallery in Long Island City, NY during the Spring and Fall Seasons of 2007. Neal is a
contributing writer for Hyperallergic and has written monographs on artists Franklin Evans, Zoe Pettijohn Schade and
recently Scott Schnepf for Tether arts journal. Neal’s own painting and catalog essay will accompany the upcoming
exhibition, The Nature Lab at LABspace in Hillsdale, NY and he will have a solo show at the Oresman Gallery, Smith
College, Northampton, MA in December 2018.