artist / participant

press release

Feuer/Mesler is pleased to present Must Chill, an exhibition of new work by Zach Harris.

Serving as a studio mantra for the artist, warning to the population, or instruction for the viewer, the exhibition title Must Chill is as enigmatic as the individual works in the show. In this latest body of work, Harris has expanded his scale and process to create elaborate pictorial worlds layered with meaning and spatial complexity, as well as expanses of kaleidoscopic fields made of intricately carved and drawn detail. Here the dichotomies between picture/frame and focus/periphery have subtly been integrated to form vast, overall designs. Within a single work may be a host of new technical and formal developments, such as atmospheric spray paint, mathematically produced fractal patterns, stereoscopic landscape painting, miniature representational forms carved across a painting's surface, laser engraving and etching, and 3-dimensionally rendered CNC machine carving. These processes create a strangely illusionistic and idiosyncratic pictorial object that exists somewhere between 2-D painting and 3-D sculpture.

Continuing with his interest in durational viewing and meditative studio practices, Harris has recently engaged in stream of conscious, automatic drawing. Often regressive and fantastic, these finely rendered figurative scenes form writhing Bosch-like masses contained within rigorous formal compositions. Over life-sized works such as Linen Last Judgement (V) and Grand St. Boogie Woogie present immersive anti-images, where endless configurations of discursive imagery can be continually discovered over time. Miniscule writing along carved edges describe the drawn scenes, rewarding the attentive viewer with clues to decipher a narrative full of apocalyptic themes, social commentary, Freudian slips of the pen and ridiculous humor.

The relationship between time and its effect on vision and recognition is a theme that runs through the entire show. In 2016 Calendar Cloud, a dynamic series of geometric cloud forms receding into infinity slowly reveals itself to be a functional Gregorian calendar for the upcoming year 2016. Itself a reminder of passing time, the calendar is set within an atmospheric spray paint sky pierced with carved shapes. Red’s Recovery Room (II) presents a spatially disorienting wallpaper-like pattern with abstracted tree/clock forms surrounded by a paisley inspired pattern that upon closer inspection becomes tiny interlocked falling figures, each one hand carved into the surface of the panel. In Curtain Call, mountains and sky become the legs and body of a giant animal looking up towards a small inlaid canvas reproduction of another painting in the show, Black Light/Last Supper, which itself depicts the same animal immersed in a dark but richly colored landscape as the sky erupts into an otherworldly orange glow.

The effectiveness of such hermetic, self-referential strategies, both narrative and formal, relies upon the calibration of color and space relations within each work. Often taking years to complete, Harris’s work develops slowly through successive stages, ultimately creating a unique aesthetic that may call to mind a number of historic styles and visionary traditions while not maintaining allegiance to any one period. Although each work contains its own discreet strategies, and may be executed in a variety of ways, the work as a whole presents a personal and singular voice.

Zach Harris (b. 1976, Santa Rosa, CA) received his BA from Bard College, his MFA from Hunter College and lives and works in Los Angeles. This is his second solo exhibition with the gallery. Harris has previously had solo exhibitions with Max Protetch Gallery, New York and David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA. He currently has a solo project at White Flags, St. Louis and will be included in Unorthodox at the Jewish Museum, opening in November 2015.