Thursday, August 02, 2012

Bret Slater

Dirt Wizard, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 7 x 5 x 1 1/4 inches

A re-post of my article in in June 2012

Bret Slater’s paintings are so cake. He must be using a knife to spread on the thick paint like frosting. And his rectangle format reminds me of sheet cakes my mother used to make, only the abstraction is not decorative, but minimal. Usually, Slater sticks to a two color format. In your average artist’s painting, the colors he uses would complement each other, but Slater manages to make these colors do combat. Either the texture or the shapes energize the colors.

One could make the mistake that Slater is playing with the edges of kitsch, but I see him combining forms of minimalism, colorfield painting, and a bit of expressionist stylings to form a very plastic object. His work is about painting and the traditions of the discipline, however, instead of a serious academic approach, he is attempting to have fun with the tradition. Not make fun, or be Post Modern ironic, but celebrating painting through style and technique.

A clue into Slater’s mind is his titles. Here are some examples from his website: “Making Fools Out of the Best of Us, Making Robots Out of the Rest of Us”, “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room,” and “Chunkenstein.” These titles read like lines for a Tom Robbins novel and force an image inside the work that might not really exist without the title. This is the exact opposite of the effect desired by his minimalist forefathers that wished to leave off the titles. Their flaw of leaving no title still left people naming their works with the label “untitled.” Slater wants to leave an impression with his titles, and those that don’t read his messages lose out on half the fun. My only disappointment is that I didn’t see a single work titled “Marie Antoinette.”

Marty Walker Gallery will not let you eat Bret Stater’s work, but you can feast your eyes on these tasty paintings. The show will be up until June 16th. Don’t miss Kevin Cooley’s video piece “Skyward.” One important aspect the gallery contributes to the Dallas art scene is their consistent offerings of video artist exhibitions.

For more images of the show, visit

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