press release

David Reed (born 1946, San Diego/California) is presenting his third solo exhibition in our Gallery (Kunstmuseum St. Gallen already dedicated a retrospective to him in 2001). Reed’s works have found a place in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Goetz Collection, Munich, and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, among others. In addition, articles and essays by such renowned authors as Arthur C. Danto, Paul Auster and David Hickey have also done much to contribute to the enhanced reception of Reed’s painting.

Although the artist sees his focus to be within the tradition of Abstract Expressionism, he is not interested in starting a meta-discourse on painting. In his art Reed is exemplarily engaged in a crossover between film, the electronic media and everyday culture. For him abstract painting does not fulfill any kind of overriding compensatory function but is part and parcel of the concrete world and therefore fraught “with all the ambiguities and moral complications one experiences in life.” Reed places his work in the context of the present day, which is characterized by the visual language of the mass media: “[Painting] has to be radically invented to be relevant to the present. I want my paintings not to be nostalgic or sentimental – that means they have to be about this moment.” His relation to reality is not direct, but one that has been filtered through Western and B movies, as well as by Hitchcock films. In the same way the perception of the artist has been prefigured by the technology and aesthetics of computer worlds, photography and video.

Against this background, the gestural flow in Reed’s paintings turns up as curves, spirals or loops, whose dynamism makes you think more of film reels and never-ending digital loops than of the idiom of abstract-expressive painting. Too, Reed’s color schemes recall Technicolor, just as his long preferred horizontal format calls Cinemascope to mind. And the lighting in Reed’s works, as on TV screens, is not focused but spread homogeneously across the picture plane – like a shimmer.

Reed’s thoughts on painting and the cinematic film took on concrete form in the installation “Scottie’s Bedroom”, which he realized 1998 at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. The artist conceived of a room containing a TV set on which a bedroom scene from Hitchcock’s film Vertigo was constantly in play. In the room itself stood a replica of the bed from the movie, while a painting by Reed hung above the bed.

Complementarily, Reed also hung his painting in the film set. By making his own painting a part of the cinematic illusion, thus generating a picture within a picture, he declared it more authentic than the actual painting.

With Reed, the abstract image forfeits its status as a sublime non-representational object. We are meant to talk about a painting by Reed as we would about the weather or decipher it like we would a friend’s body language. The fact that the painting is abstract does not imply that it is free of historical allusions, memories or associations. Thus Reed’s compositions call to mind the myth of the Great American Desert, its labyrinthine vocabulary the opulence of the Baroque, and his use of artificial colors and his “polished” treatment of the surface the artist’s love of Las Vegas. It thus comes as no surprise that Reed repeatedly hangs his paintings in an “unorthodox” way and that – “when we stop looking and start to see” – they unfold a physical syntax that is “sexy as hell”. (Dave Hickey)

Birgid Uccia Pressetext

only in german

David Reed “New Paintings”