Improvisational jazz is to mid-twentieth-century Abstract Expressionism as digital technology is to post-neo-expressionism (or whatever we end up terming today’s canvases). This analogy comes amidst seeing the captivating new group show at Western Exhibitions, featuring three artists whose paintings respectively reference surveillance, graphic and data processing technologies.
Danish artist Mette Winckelmann’s laptop-screen-sized works are successful exercises in geometric abstraction, where grids of acrylic color bisected by sudden composition changes produce the same kind of optical effects resulting from staring at a screen too long. Ironically, it is her most basic, black-and-white composition (“Untitled,” 2006) that accomplishes this sensation most effectively.
Working with a color palate somewhere between Monique Preito’s muted tones and Anselm Kieffer’s ashy shades, Irish artist Paul Doran’s oil paintings on linen resemble aerial-view surveillance images of base encampments. Doran’s thumbprint-looking brush marks surrounding the perimeter of an image are clever additions to an industrial esthetic.
The exhibition standout is Wisconsin-based artist Dale Malner, producing vibrant, neon-verging paintings based on Photoshop-manipulated drawings. Malner’s “Scaffolding I” (2007) presents a stunning, dystopic scene of what could be an oil refinery tower shrouded by punk-pink and hot-purple gases. In a show marked by abstraction and technological suspicion, Phillip K. Dick and German Expressionists alike might be proud. (Danny Orendorff)
Paul Doran, Dale Malner, Mette Winckelmann show at Western Exhibitions, 119 N Peoria, #2A, through December 20.