February 2 – April 20, 2018
Opening Reception February 2, 6-9pm
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 found 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
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.
Check out a live feed video from the opening here.