Keith Allyn Spencer
ModernDallas.net repost by Todd Camplin
For over 100 years, abstract art has increasingly reached the masses and has made in roads on gaining acceptance from the masses. Some, like the Russian Constructivists, attempted to make a universally understood type of art through abstraction which promptly failed to meet their utopian idealism, but they left a legacy that influenced artists with great aspirations for abstraction. Kandinsky showed abstraction as an imaginative exploration of the unseen world. In the 1950’s here in the US, artists wanted to show their authentic selves through gestures of painterly expressions. In the 1960’s, minimalist artists attempted to reduce as many design elements as possible and still achieve an aesthetic experience. So, what is abstract art saying today. A lot of noise or poor abstract art is being made, but a great deal of interesting voices are also chiming to the conversation of abstraction. You might say, looking at all the different kinds of abstract art being made right now is like listening to an orchestra warming up. If you can focus in on an artist or two, the noise dies away.
This summer had a great deal of abstract art group and solo shows. Right now Galleri Urbane has a show titled, Here and Now, which features some of those interesting voices. In fact, I would say their show is a nice cross section of what is currently going on. Michael Will’s work is layered, using elements of hard edge style, but he counteracts that style with some expressive brush work. The edges are not meant to be perfectly crisp geometric shapes, but rather Will embraces the flaws of the edges. His work is about the exploration of shape and form in relationship to expression. His layers imply depth rather than a flat experience, it’s as if he is inviting you to excavate the paintings with your eyes. Layering for Loring Taoka is quieter and more minimal. Simple details can be easily noticed and explored in her work. Subtle shifts of shadow and shading reduce elements of design to their simplest form while maintaining a visually interesting object or shape.
Melinda Laszczynski is quite a bit more playful with her abstraction. It has been a trend for contemporary art to take a form or style and reconceptualize it in an irreverent way. Not that Laszczynski doesn’t respect the past abstractionist, but I don’t think she over internalizes her paintings like an AbEx artist would. Rather, she has the benefit of Pop and all the other reactions to those overly serious and heroic people. I see her mixing up serious and fun to blend out wild experiments in paint. Obsession is another good way to create abstract art and Lindsey Landfried has this going on all over her work with mark after mark filling up her given surface. I can understand the need to make small marks that are inherently different, but theoretically made to be the same to make an image. Obsessive pieces are about failing and succeeding at the same time. One cannot reach perfection, but in the repetition one can sure try to make that mark and in doing so, a very compelling image emerges. Flaws are another approach to abstraction and Keith Allyn Spencer goes for that weathered look in his painted objects. What has been removed is as important to the visual experience as what is there. Thus his objects are arranged for openings and the works seem damaged. Unpolished abstraction is a way to counter the slick ads and digital images so prevalent today in media.
Galleri Urbane could only bring together a small sample of all the different styles and happening going on in abstraction. Circuit 12 Contemporary just took one down that had a good variety of Non Objective art as their title suggested. Barry Whistler Gallery and Erin Cluley Gallery also have group shows with