Andrew Rafacz Gallery’s long, shallow and rectangular main space opens up with Zachary Buchner’s sparsely hung solo exhibition. All of Buchner’s paintings are a similar size, touched with fluorescent yellows, blues, reds and pale hues recalling spring. The brushstrokes are light, without rigor, as if the artist was coloring something in. The paintings are numbered “JSY 01” and “JSY 02” and so on. Serialized, the titles serve as an indication of a controlled experiment or a forbearance of something else to come, perhaps. With each painting holding a load of plaster dribbled, dotted or poured on the surface, and not breaking nor fighting with its frame, the seven paintings end up as limited permutations of each other.
Primarily concerned with surface, Buchner’s attempted arbitrariness and asymmetry of plaster placement seems negligent. To call them sculptural is misdirected; simply using a sculptural material as paint does not qualify the term. The transferred index of one painting to another is intriguing but reveals little. The material process suggests a connection to fresco, but Buchner’s thin paint is restrained and the compositions are not structurally varied beyond the paint-plaster-paint system. Buchner’s paintings are curious in this regard because of the lack of questions they ask. With their assuredness in surface, everything hangs off of it. Painting is surface, is that where the possibilities lie for this work?
The exhibition’s title, “Just Say Yes,” is a spoiler. The paintings are made to be bright and inviting, and play at being untamed. Neither questioning the world nor themselves in the process of being made, the paintings feel unengaged from the qualities of contemporary painting, such as image, framing or the act of painting itself. Although their formal qualities are pleasurable, I desire a position beyond the neutral. (Sean Ward)
Through May 5 at Andrew Rafacz Gallery, 835 West Washington