press release

Preview: 30.08.2007 / 19.00-21.00 /

STANDARD (OSLO) is pleased to announce the opening of the group exhibition "Paintings, Props and Problems (Still Unresolved)", featuring works of Tauba Auerbach, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Matias Faldbakken, Kim Hiorthøy and Josh Smith. Examining the relationship between painting and the theatrical prop, these works seem to put an emphasis on the objecthood of painting, and attempt at abandonment, destruction or deconstruction of the painterly practice.

"I wanted to get the paint out of the can and onto the canvas … I tried to keep the paint as good as it was in the can." – Frank Stella

"The loss of quality that is so evident at every level of spectacular language, from the objects it glorifies to the behavior it regulates, stems from the basic nature of a production system that shuns reality. The commodity form reduces everything to quantitative equivalence. The quantitative is what it develops, and it can develop only within the quantitative." – Guy Debord, "The Society of the Spectacle", 1967

"Paintings, Props And Problems (Still Unresolved)" takes as its point of departure the practice and idea of painting, but nevertheless includes works that may rather be categorized as 'arbitrary objects'. In line with Frank Stella's ambition – initially stated in connection with his debut exhibition at MoMA (New York) in 1958 – this exhibition reconsiders notions of production, non-production and the readymade painting in current practice. Rather than aiming at transcendent speculations (abstraction) or suggestions of narratives (figuration), these works seem to concentrate on the incomplete or indifferent – freely assuiming the role as proposals, prototypes or as props.

Immediately confronting the viewer upon entrance to the exhibition is a sculptural work by Matias Faldbakken, "Film Cans #4". Six tall stacks of film canisters have been sprayed down with chrome spray. The silver-coloured excess bleeds onto the walls and floor where the work is installed. Returning to the by-products from the entertainment industry – in this case the almost obsolete film canister – Faldbakken displays his recurring interest in that which exposes the fundaments of the spectacular. Both being infirm and empty, these canisters not only share features with the theatrical prop, but inevitably also comment on recent attempts throughout cultural production at emptying out (literal) content. Here, the rigid sculptural form is combined with an almost mocking quotation of the gesture of application, introducing vandalism (spraypaint) as an alternative language of negation through more or less spectacular means.

An comparable interest in the by-product may be found in the untitled paintings of Josh Smith, commonly referred to as "palette paintings". While working on a larger painting, Smith will utilize a smaller canvas as a palette for mixing the paint. The result of this process there is two paintings: one intentionally and one automatically executed. However, the very execution of the latter questions our notions of composition, as well as challenging the expectation of involvement or investment of the artist intrinsically linked with the legacy of abstract painting (that these works still are visually reminding of). As with so many of Smith's works, there is a reversal of what constitutes the instrument and what constitutes the content in production and presentation of art – earlier having allowed for his own name or the poster for an exhibition to take centre stage as motives for his works. Equally detached is the commentary offered in Kim Hiorthøy's video work "Film About Colours". Simple cutout figures of coloured cardboard – like home-made, impaired monochromes – are methodically presented in front of the camera, while a voice over announces the names of the colours in French. Adjacent is an ink drawing by Hiorthøy depicting black paint running from the top of the paper. The completely flat rendition of the potential physical event generates an unmoving and unconvincing gesture – all traces of the artist's work erased. The displayed disinterest echoes with one of the conclusions drawn by Guy Debord in the Society of the Spectacle: "Only the real negation of culture can preserve its meaning." Only the frozen gesture revives painting. Only the colourless surface gives meaning when revisiting the legacy of the monochrome. Occupying the end wall is a work of Gardar Eide Einarsson in the form of a reproduction of a mirror commonly found in public space. Bearing the title, "Suicide Mirror", it both verbally and visually retracts, while at the same time having the ability to reflect every colour.

The three works of Tauba Auerbach presented similarly look at the legacy of Modernist painting as inherently unstable, while also extending her analysis to two parallel investigations of morphology; that of computer programming language and that of the production of colour spectrum. Entitled "50/50" her large-scale ink drawings are based on a dichotomy equal to that of binary programming language, where information is put together through a system of 1's and 0's. Auerbach translates this configuration of 'yes' and 'not yes' into a restrictive system where 1 and 0 have been replaced by modularized halves of black and white. The result is as much an optically disorientating effect as an actual representation of the colour grey (digitally defined as 50% white and 50% black). The rigid logic is only introduced to be disrupted, with large sections of her latter two works suddenly being inverted. Hence the opposites, which constitute the formal and linguistic system, collapse. This work method of subjecting artistic determination to systematic restrictions and material resistance is further investigated in two works by the above-mentioned Faldbakken. Applying solely isolation tape as instrument the artist willingly imposes limitations. The two canvases thus present little more than clumsily spelled words, where the lack of precision and inevitable reduction is further amplified through repetition.

Paintings, Props And Problems (Still Unresolved)
Kurator: Eivind Furnesvik

mit Tauba Auerbach, Gardar Eide Einarsson, Matias Faldbakken, Kim Hiorthoy, Josh Smith