Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Will Duty: Project Scratch. Duty’s new graphite drawings combine gestural marks with natural imagery and formalized designs. Waterfalls, galaxies and cloud swirls are overlaid by what appear to be erratic scribbles, reminiscent of abstract expressionism.
The title of the exhibition, Project Scratch, refers to the artist’s process of developing compositions on the computer, scratching away lines from monochromatic overlays that gradually reveal background imagery. Duty sought to reverse the foreground sensibility characteristic of painterly abstraction, wherein lines (or brushstrokes) are typically placed as artifacts on a ground. Instead of adding lines, he took them away. The result was a sort of scribble with nocturnal overtones and deep contrasts in light and contour. From these computer compositions and additional sketches, he then made drawings with multiple layers of graphite.
In some drawings, groupings of white lines are mirrored, creating symmetrical patterns and mosaic-like effects. (It should be noted the artist rarely uses an eraser.) In others, patches of gray weave in and out, like floating matter or waves.
A glimpse of lightning in a rainstorm served as a starting point for several drawings. The artist perceived it as an erratic line, like a gestural mark in the sky. In contrast to the “scribble” drawings, he used the lightning as an organizational motif: sharp and jagged bolts, as found in mid-century cartoons, harness cloud masses and smoke.
For Duty, each stylistic combination is unique, and attempts to reveal a third element, or affect. In an oblique way, certain aspects of 20th century abstraction are addressed, and reveal its continued influence on art being made today.
This is Will Duty’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. His drawings have been exhibited in group exhibitions at The Drawing Center, New York; The Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York; The Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina, Geoffrey Young Gallery, Great Barrington, Massachusetts and Daniel Weinberg Gallery, Los Angeles. He received a BS from the University of Chicago and a BFA from The Cooper Union, New York. Duty lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico.