Garry Noland works in the space between things—between color and form, between viewer and object. He favors materials with accrued character, such as weathered styrofoam blocks found washed up on the beach. From these humble origins, Noland coaxes gorgeous, undulating patterns. On the surface, his work reads as pure joyful play, yet over time it unfolds slowly to reveal complex repetitions and sensitive color relationships. Noland emphasizes process over product, so the work never feels overly labored or fussy. One of his signature moves is to apply duct tape to weathered wooden floors. The tape is collaged on the reverse side, revealing the wood grain with its splinters and chunks. Golden duct tape masquerades as precious gold leaf, and the warp and weft of the tape against the impression of floorboards become quilt-like assemblages of readymade colors.
One of the most arresting pieces in this exhibition is “Ladder,” which features intermingling patterns on two parallel strips of anthropomorphic, pink-painted cardboard. The superimposition of the ladder’s shadow on the repurposed cardboard box generates an optical pull from across the gallery. Noland employs decollage as a delicate drawing tool where traces of the hand are carefully removed to generate negative space. Noland’s materials refer to the utter romantic power of arte povera with updated source materials—some cardboard comes from discarded Amazon packages. Yet the scope of references, artists and images Noland draws upon in any one object is encyclopedic and goes beyond momentary trends.
Noland, who is based in Los Angeles, has been honing his craft for decades. After he pulls together an exhibition, he is known to return to the studio the next day without even a pause to rest and relish in his successes. Prolific as he is, the selection of works in this exhibition breathe deeply thanks to thoughtful curatorial editing. As Noland embellishes overlooked materials into talismans of life, the space between us and them becomes newly charged with the power of their enchanted surfaces. (Nicole Mauser)
Garry Noland’s “The Most Beautifulest Thing in the World” shows through May 27 at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, 319 North Albany.