Storefront Bushwick is pleased to present the work of Carol Salmanson and Stephen Truax in two solo exhibitions at the gallery from April 20—May 20th.
Carol Salmanson works with light and reflective materials. Trained as a painter, the artist began using light and reflective materials eight years ago to take the spatial and color concerns of her painting into a different realm. Salmanson’s wall pieces harness light’s unique ability to touch both mind and feelings. Her work creates a sensation of depth, one that opens into mysterious worlds. The artist writes of her fascination with the material, “Light beams into you and envelops you. These very special qualities let me build emotional spaces that resonate with memory and experience. By amplifying and radiating color outward, into and around the viewer, I can build atmospheres, using color, line, and form in a way that goes beyond painting’s two-dimensional limitations.” Salmanson’s large installations originate with the architecture of the sites they will inhabit. They are structural, concerned with the way that form, light, and reflected light merge to create a space that is artificial but not fictional: a stage set, lit from without and within. In the small works, in contrast, the artist’s hand is visible. There is both spontaneity and hand-drawn lines, even though they’re made from industrial materials such as LEDs, electronics components, plastics, and wire. Like painting, the work is deeply personal. Painters have always talked about depicting light. Today’s technology allows Salmanson to use light as medium as well as subject. In her of work, she brings new media into the context of the history of painting.
Project Space: Stephen Truax
Stephen Truax’s Xena series proposes a paradox–that contemporary painting can be simultaneously self-questioning and sincere. This recursive stance occupies two contradictory positions: one, painting’s acknowledgment of its own history and emotional meaning and two, the impossibility that painting can be unselfconsciously meaningful in a contemporary context. The Xena series, 2010-11, are geometric abstract paintings in gouache and pencil on stretched and prepared paper, made by overlapping transparent layers of vibrant color. The compositions are bilaterally symmetrical and are drawn directly from ancient Roman mosaics, decorative wall painting, quilt patterns, and textile design. To make the work, the artist employs a unique process where areas of gouache are painted over hand-drafted patterns and then removed, leaving transparent layers of pigment stain in the prepared ground. The paintings have an impact disproportionate to their modest scale because of their striking beauty and enigmatic character. The paintings teeter on the edge of craft by referencing quilting and decorative arts, yet also recall classical spiritual or religious imagery. Although made with materials traditionally used in design and drawing–the hand-drawn pencil grid remains visible in the final image–these works are clearly paintings intended to test the boundaries of the medium. By isolating common symbols and archetypes from historical, sacred sources and representing them in new, self-consciously-designed works, the artist connects motifs of ancient art and architecture with the practice of painting today. The Xena series proposes a link between the belief-infused visual language of the past and self-conscious contemporary thought.