“Have we taken the true and full measure of the quarrel, often of a singular violence, of which the art characterized as “abstract” was made the object throughout the twentieth century, and continues so to be made, at least sporadically within this Janus-faced “present,” which is our lot, looking both forward and back? The slippage, which has just operated from one century (one millennium) to the other, only makes the dissymmetry between the two aspects more apparent: that of a present always already past, irrevocably past, and always yet to come, irremediably to come?”
- Hubert Damisch “The Visible, the Screen, the Crisis” 2006
Room East is delighted to present an exhibition of new work by New York-based artists Ben Schumacher and Dan Shaw-Town at 41 Orchard Street in New York City. The exhibition, installed on two floors of the gallery, is the second in a series of two-person shows that has given full curatorial authority to the exhibiting artists. An opening reception will take place on Sunday 6 May from 6-8pm.
The abstract plaster markings on Ben Schumacher’s screens embody the notion of ‘thrownness’ (‘Geworfenheit’ in German), a term Martin Heidegger used to describe how a given subject is forced or thrown into the world regardless of its connection to its immediate context. Using a screen as a ground also makes the works inherently transparent, rife with moiré patterns, and allows the works to be mounted either directly to or projecting from a wall. Also on view is a small work made from a microfiche of Vogue from 1986 that is blacked out with ink except for where advertisements for various watches are left visible. His ongoing series of sculptures made from pendant durians continues an investigation into natural forms that are designed for concealment. The fruits’ particular scent will fill the gallery until it is deemed impossible to keep them on display. The yellow netting will then be cut open to extract the fruit and all that will remain on view is a string of empty shrouds. Originally trained as an architect, Schumacher’s sculptural instinct is key to his interest in optical and informational interference.
Dan Shaw-Town presents a new body of wall-based works made from materials used in commercial sign making. Two different substrates are employed: a plywood composite with a 250 gsm white paper finish, and Econolite (a corrugated plastic sandwiched between aluminum sheets). The surfaces of these panels are host to various materials, from screen printing ink and enamel to contact paper and clear vinyl sheeting. Their bold lines and patterns recall minimalist abstraction in the vein of Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, Franz Kline, and Herman Glöckner among others. With the exception of an adhesive-backed work that is mounted directly to a panel door that conceals the gallery’s electrical fuse box, Shaw-Town’s new large-scale works are all presented in custom hot-rolled steel frames. Among the large works is a unique frame that is sprayed with a color known as Code Red, a specific reference to Herbert Bayer’s iconic imagery for the Bauhaus. Reflecting on this new body of work Shaw-Town notes that, “this familiar aesthetic that has repeatedly been adopted and stylized in contemporary painting as well as commercial branding is here used as an analog for the ready-made. What these works propose with their flattened ‘wipe clean’ surfaces, is a series of objects that confront the nostalgia of this aesthetic, abandoning poetry in favor of a rehearsed and worked out version of spontaneity.”
BEN SCHUMACHER (Canada, b.1985) / DAN SHAW-TOWN (Britain, b.1983)