Work by Brandon Anschultz (St. Louis, MO), Justin Gainan (Kansas City, MO), RJ Messineo (St. Louis, MO), Mathew Paul Jinks (Chicago, IL), Michael Sirianni (Chicago, IL) and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung (Chicago, IL).
In this exhibition, there are no fiery explosions or sharpened knives. And unlike Richard Serra’s Splashing (1968), where the artist hurled molten lead against a wall inside the Castelli Warehouse, the works in this exhibition do not engage with violence as an outwardly directed force—lacking a distinct target, such as the physical gallery or the art world. These six artists explore the subject/object relations of violence through more subtle and intimate forms that concern the frustration between the personal and the historical, the material and the conceptual, and the limitations of medium-specificity.
Though directed inwardly, this form of violence still bears a physical presence. Whether using the body to act out towards their materials or exploring the violence inherent in their respective mediums, the artists explore the heavy weight of art historical tradition while at the same time opening up a space for subjective experience. The artworks have become subject to the frustrations and futility of creative production through cutting, nailing, and tearing (Molly Zuckerman-Hartung), or erasing the figure as a means to evoke a stance against the primacy of the visual field (Justin Gainan and Michael Sirianni). RJ Messineo cuts and reassembles a wooden panel, traditionally reserved for painting, into a sculptural form. Instead of reconstructing the panel to open up a space, however, she sees her work as enclosing a space, making it more insular and private. Brandon Anschultz exhibits his canvases from behind; in piles of sawed-up remnants; or cut from the frame, folded into a three-dimensional object. Matthew Paul Jinks explores the properties of his chosen materials, such as brass and oak, creating site-specific installations that aggressively consume the exhibition space.
Frustrated with the overwhelming aura of art history’s past—just go through the alphabet from August Rodin to the Zero Group—any attempts to thwart or rework tradition appear futile when thought of in terms of the historical avant-garde. Confronted with such an overwhelming task, these works communicate a more personal approach. The rupture that occurs from this act—between the subject and his or her materials—renders the past visible in the present and creates a stage that brings forth memories of art history past, but also, the intimate and cultural memories that inform all work.