New YorkGraham Collins: 2068
Halsey McKay presents 2068, an exhibition of paintings on experimental ceramic supports by Graham Collins.
As with much of Collins’ diverse output, the specific material properties and techniques that go into producing each piece are spotlighted and foregrounded conceptually and simultaneously obscured or hidden from view. The supports are constructed face down, beginning with a simple clay slab. This slab is then cut to size and reinforced while building up areas to distance it from the wall, balance, and hang it. The stoneware support is dried, glazed and fired. Next, a piece of canvas or wood veneer is mounted to the front side with an archival adhesive, trimmed to the edges, and painted. Each painting is titled after a Washington, D.C. area location.
A selection of these paintings are installed in Halsey Mckay’s ground floor gallery space. The initial appearance as a monochrome painting show belies an ambivalence towards the history and future of painting drawn out by the works physical makeup and idiosyncratic production methods. Most of the works are faced with an organic hemp canvas and coated with a handmade casein paint. Others have a thin layer of hand cut wood veneer. Additional layers include encaustic and oil paints. The picture planes are dominated by monochromatic fields, often overlying subtle geometric shapes and layers of expressive underpainting.
These paintings function like other works from Collins’ oeuvre in that they initially read as minimalistic painting objects but actually contain a lot of handmade, intuitive and gestural marking. The works also needle the loaded material, ceramic, by using it structurally rather than putting it decoratively in the foreground. Unlike traditional ceramics or painting, most of the expressive content and physical labor goes into the support and is barely peeking out. The meticulously sculpted backing reveals itself only to an especially curious observer or sustained viewing. The surfaces are imperfect but generally flat and will never warp, shrink or expand. In this regard, they have some material advantages over the traditional stretched canvas that is held as painting’s standard. The installation highlights the works’ peculiar relationship to the wall and surrounding architecture, beyond that of familiar shaped canvas painting.
Graham Collins (b. 1980, Washington, D.C.) received his BFA from Corcoran College of Art in Washington and his MFA from Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. Recent solo exhibitions have been with Halsey McKay Gallery, New York and East Hampton, New York; The Journal, Brooklyn, NY; Almine Rech, Brussels, Belgium; Bugata & Cargnel, Paris, France; Jonathan Viner Gallery, London, United Kingdom. His work has been included in several group exhibitions, most recently at Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, California; C. Grimaldis, Baltimore, Maryland; Marlborough Contemporary, New York, New York. He currently lives and works in New York and is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery. 2068 marks his third solo exhibition with the gallery.Courtesy of the artist and Halsey McKay Gallery, New York