Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Installation View re-post (link)

What is the difference between a collage and an assemblage? Can a collage or assemblage also be a painting? If you want a good example of an artist that blurs these lines, look no further than Howard Sherman and his show of paintings at Circuit 12 Contemporary. Sherman is back in town and his show keeps you coming back for more. At least for me because I went and saw the show three times. Normally once is all I can fit in for most shows with my limited time, but something kept me coming back for more.

Collage has fallen out of favor here lately because so many people are using collage to scrapbook or slap together a lazy collection of images. So, some artists have started labeling their work assemblage. However, assemblage tends to invade our space, if only just a little bit. You might say assemblage is a modern equivalent of a relief sculpture. I would argue that Howard Sherman is doing both collage and assemblage in this show, while also creating a body of work that is about painting. Take the collages in the back room for example, these works are cut, ripped, and assembled just like a collage, but he is using his own created elements. Thus these works are not using the language of traditional collage. The small works are miniature laboratories where Sherman tries out ideas for his larger works. These are more akin to painting sketches. The larger paintings in the main gallery are also assemblages. Two works are almost completely assemblages with less of a traditional painting structure left. These two works are off stretcher bars and just pieced together with paint on some of the surfaces. The rest have hanging elements but are on stretchers that hold the painting together.

During my first visit, I had a lengthy conversation with Sherman about his evolving practice. My second trip, I noticed that the small collages informed the large painting. I found myself walking to the back room and returning to the main room several times. I also observed that the large paintings resembled faces. I had a similar feeling when I stood in front of a large painting by Chuck Close. Though Close is rooted in realism, both Close and Sherman create a portrait that demands your attention. With Sherman, you don’t just get a portrait, but his abstract approach leaves his work open to more than just the portrait interpretation. Close leaves you with essentially one read.

Howard Sherman has shown several times in the Dallas area. A University of North Texas alum, Sherman is rooted in DFW. However, until just recently his studios have been in Houston. Now he is based in NYC. Shockwaves of UNT can still be felt through his work, although refined, stripped away, and reapplied. I still see hints of Vernon Fisher’s and Ed Blackburn’s influence, but Sherman’s own voice is loud and clear.

Howard Sherman’s show titled Shifting Fancy of the Crowd will be up through May 6th at Circuit 12 Contemporary. Be sure to read every title of each of his artworks. I promise you will get a kick out of Sherman’s playful wit.

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