For his first solo exhibition at Freight + Volume, New York-based Andrew Guenther presents old and new paintings together as a means of mining his individual artistic culture. Positing the installation of the exhibition in synecdochic relation to his painting practice, Guenther displays his works as objects absorbed and re-presented, much in the way his individual works arise from a consumption and regurgitation of culture at large.
Guenther’s work presents a world of gathered and reshaped articles. He paints using an array of media and casts a wide web of referents, drawing from the banal (album covers, psychedelia, horror flicks, plants, flowers, birds) and art historical touchstones (Milton Avery, Goya, Dokoupil, and Baselitz come to mind). Flower (2000) is a gentle re-positing of a familiar motif; untitled works from that same time exhibit a similar refinement in touch. Other works, such as Auras of Things II (2003), deal with a more psychedelic experience, but speak of a similar communion with the world. Meanwhile, paintings such as Water on the Planet (2007), are atavistic, eerie, and sensitive, harking on Neo-Expressionist and Pre-Cubist aesthetics, with nods to popular culture.
Aware Now II (2008) combines all these referents. The image of a single, hands-up, figure, is pared down and ghoulish. The straightforward composition, closely cropped, brings to mind any number of horror-slasher movies, while the dark washes of color lend a Goya-esque grotesqueness. Likewise, the thinness of the paint, its dispersion into the canvas and into the painted subject, translates as the experience of some sort of aura or ether. Ultimately Guenther’s interests in art history, the psychedelic, the spiritual, and the macabre are sandwiched into each piece.
In presenting these objects, Guenther gives us a conglomeration of experiences. Paintings are clustered together or grouped on shelves, exhibiting the artist’s cyclical consumption/regurgitation of the outside world into each painting, and of each painting back into his oeuvre. The artist completes the representation of this cycle by including other handmade trinkets and objects of significance.
Andrew Guenther was born in Wheaton, Illinois, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from Mason Gross School for the Arts at Rutgers University in 2000 and has since exhibited domestically and internationally, notably with Greener Pastures in Toronto, Mogadishni in Copenhagen, and Bucket Rider in Chicago. His work has been featured in, amongst other publications, The New York Times, ArtForum, and The Wall Street Journal.