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Philip Argent, New Paintings

Luxe Gallery
53 Stanton Street, 212-582-4425
East Village / Lower East Side
May 10 - June 6, 2009
Reception: Sunday, May 10, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

LUXE Gallery is delighted to present NEW PAINTINGS by UK born, California-based artist Phil Argent.

Phil’s new paintings have shifted in psychological tone and appearance from his earlier graphic space-scapes, playfully disrupting a sense of unified surface or stability. Crisp yet ragged edges exist in a tenuous relationship with fragile planes of color – seemingly about to dissolve. Where once there was an emphasis on impervious and sometimes slick, decal-like surfaces, (relatable to the screens, windows and cut and paste aesthetics of many computer programs) there now exists a fractured and displaced field. The works’ spatial incongruities dispense with the scanning effect of reading from one ‘window’ to the next, and instead generate a kind of restless zoom effect, prompting the viewer’s retinal and bodily engagement. Taking in the imaginary vista we are asked to continually refocus on internal detail and incident. Though essentially non-objective clusters of color and shape, these intricate areas of precision and complexity exist as elements in a new painted reality, compelling our scrutiny.

We are drawn to the luxurious glow of a red/orange field shifting to a lighter tangerine, which is suddenly interrupted by a brittle, floating baroque form that from a distance reads as a kind of tertiary lattice over the saturated field. As we move closer, this appears as a threatening and spiky amorphous fissure. Standing a few feet away or conversely, a few inches, gives a completely different reading of the same work. Perhaps this could be said viewing any painting, but Argent seems acutely aware and in control of these shifting perceptions. By engaging our senses on multiple levels through arrangements of seemingly random incidents, he is able to evoke both emotional correlations (jangling our nerves with shrieking color combinations) whilst suggesting a visual and structural language couched in diagrammatic and synthetic tropes and codes. Argent transforms conventional notions of hard-edge abstraction, reconstructing a series of imaginary worlds having as much in common with the active, embellished spaces of Mannerist paintings as the mutated virtual debris of contemporary visual culture.

Philip Argent lives and works in Goleta, CA, and currently teaches in the Department of Art at UCSB. He received an MFA from UNLV in 1994. His work has been exhibited in numerous national and international group exhibitions including “Populence” (at MOCA, Cleveland and the Blaffer Gallery, Univ. of Houston), “Post Digital Painting” (at the Cranbrook Art Museum, MI), “Crossroads” (at the Mannheim Kunstverein) and “Neo Painting” (at the Young Eun Museum of Contemporary Art, Kwangju, Korea).

He has had solo shows in Los Angeles, New York and Berlin. Two of his recent collage works on paper are in the permanent collection of MOMA NY.
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