Scaramouche is pleased to present “Waitings,” a solo exhibition by Paul Branca. Playing with notions of artistic labor, Branca circulates urban signs and symbols to near illegibility. Perhaps most indebted to the Pictures generation, Branca’s paintings appropriate imagery only to abstract it, jarringly juxtaposing the painterly with the pictorial in absurd combination.
A kind of flaneur, Branca takes keen interest in the modern city, particularly New York’s fabled subway. Inspired by long waits for train service, Branca disarticulates platform advertisements with giddy disregard; a MoMA exhibition poster is reduced to thickly-painted figuration; in Q, a Dallas BBQ advertisement is re-articulated as simple iconography: a masking tape face, a deep red daquiri, the letter “q”.
Such unfastened signifiers recur elsewhere in the exhibition, forming a deadpan representational system. A flattened strawberry is extracted from one painting and found in another. The umbrella, quintessential urban accessory, makes several appearances: on the surface of Q, in another series rendering subway signs as directionless anagrams, as well as in La partage des pluie, an umbrella stand positioned atop a pedestal. A performative nod to Duchamp’s Readymades, this will be painted white every three days by gallery staff to, in theory, leave a fresh rainy day imprint on visitor’s belongings.
Such humorous gestures subvert painting’s historically-privileged position. Branca reframes it as everyday labor, manifest literally as a series of “palette cleansers” which accumulate leftover studio paint as hourglass-shaped, geometric abstractions. Rounding out “Waitings,” a small chronology of works spell out the artist’s personal phone number in colorful, blocky patterns, laying bare Branca’s productive position with tongue-in-cheek candor.
An essay by David Everitt Howe will accompany the exhibition.
Paul Branca (b. 1974) received his MFA from Bard College in 2010 and his BFA from Queens College in 2001. Recent exhibitions include “Couch Crash,” a solo show at Golden Parachutes, Berlin, Germany, with contributing essays by Jenny Borland, Tim Pierson, and Jess Wilcox; “A Knot for Ariadne” at Kavi Gupta Gallery, Berlin, Germany; “Half a self, a cave-dweller” at the former convent of St. Cecilia’s Parish, Brooklyn, New York; and “For You” at the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies Gallery, Columbia University. Branca lives and works in New York.