The successive stages of the modernist aesthetic isolated first the eye as the specific entity responsible for the act of seeing, second, the mind/heart set responsible for the lyrical synthesis of visual data. Today's abstraction builds on these two premises. Two painters recently added to the roster of Beekiller artists provide their own take on progress of these ideas: Marlon Sporer studies the internal life of basic Euclidian forms; John Oritz fuses simple biomorphic shapes with a sense of time. Both employ language relating to the rise of computer technologies and the consequent increase in the rate at which we communicate. As a result, some recent works in abstraction elicits a pleasure not unlike looking at a wallpaper on desktop of your PC. The work of these two painters has an entirely different agenda, marked by inquisitive expansion towards life, and a passionate animus of discovery.
. Marlon Sporer -- mediator of cosmic narratives .
Effortless simplicity is the first striking quality of Marlon Sporer's paintings. Sparse on statements and the theory, Sporer constructs a personal language based on shapes and colors. He describes his work as a basic network of symbols that relate particular colors to the chronology of his life--the basic shapes of triangle, square and circle allude to the notions of energy, mass and light, respectively. Historically, painters have used these symbols to express religious and philosophical interrelations. Sporer's paintings align themselves squarely in the tradition of these themes.
Many of his forms draw on the vocabulary of early video games, imbuing them with a cosmic narrative that treats of energy, space and mass. They make for good fairy-tales in the Pac-man age. They are mysterious surfaces of fleeting design, like spiritual Flash web sites. The backdrop of these paintings is an incandescent space, part dreamscape, part virtual reality engine.
In Marlon's early works, signature lines of pure energy dash across the canvas like heartbeats on a hospital monitor. In recent work, these restless lines have evolved into tension between swirling shapes--but it is their continuing energy that holds his work together. Like a play with recurring, variant characters, it is a revolving stage list involved in manifold narratives. Considering Marlon began associating shapes and colors in this way early on, his work is an allegory of crises and releases that govern his life.
Sporer's self-portrait considers abstraction's relation to the idea of representation as a verifiable truth or "likeness." The "self" invites a chuckle about the factual nature of this endeavor. It does retain the certain matter-of-factness of all self-portraiture, albeit one that is recharted on an entirely different grid. It exists both as a psychic imprint of his energy and as his attitude toward the activity of introspection; the lower line of dashes and an awkward blink of a triangle is as good as his wink at the viewer and himself.
The still surface of paintings usually accentuates the possibility of movement. Looking at Marlon's images, one is again reminded of video games and Flash web sites by the illusion of space far and beyond your browser window. The paintings, pages and games are all vision machines, ushering us into the world of spatial thinking--as opposed to the linearity of deductive thought. The paintings are simultaneous: they compress movement of all of their parts into a stillness making the image vibrate with something akin to a retinal afterimage. It is as if the forms acquire movement as a result of our thinking about them.
We can expect Marlon's future works to expand beyond the canvas, given his will towards this suggestion of movement. And indeed he talks of planning installations that would allow this narrative to unfurl further in space.
. John Oritz -- engineering perception .
If one of the tenets of early modernist painting was a search for visual truth--the progress of visual art towards a more truthful and informed method of registering visual stimuli--then John Oritz joins this tradition in reasserting painting's function as a visual object. His work explores the deep links between the construction of sight as a natural phenomenon and the repercussions that seeing has on our thinking. Nature of sight is built upon two elements: incoming data in the field of vision, and our awareness of what we are seeing--the unconscious link to the object's histories and our cultural standing. As such, the double team of these elements introduces reason to the anarchy of the natural world under the name of perception.
The systematic way John employs to construct his paintings is best evidenced by the ink drawings of crisscrossing elliptical shapes. In his paintings, the possibilities of seeing are elaborated in series of biomorphic forms that seem to fluidly pulsate across the surface of the canvas. He stresses the importance of making images that incorporate the instant of seeing with the intellectual process that informs an instance. In fold out drawings, where images are drawn in ink on translucent rice paper and subsequently folded and retraced on the back, the complexity of overlaying images alludes to the unfolding process of looking. Whereas in the paintings there is a more metaphoric approach to the problems of eye movement, the ink drawings are like liner notes to illuminate the mechanics of sight. The initial set of circles and lines represents the initial glance, while the tracings that follow develop further the complexity of sight, specifically the internal process of seeing and understanding an artwork.
The ink drawings anticipate the almost mechanical activation of forms in the field of vision. If the path that an eye takes through one of those fold out drawings can be compared to a train traveling from A to B, one recognizes quickly that the terrain which this train traverses is transformed by the very act of moving/seeing. The process of art-making for John is a systematic notation of the activity of seeing and the resonance it has on the abstract patterns of thought.
The paintings, on the other hand, by nature of their completeness and autonomy are like simulations of already conducted experiments. While the surface is replete with option for movement, in the sort of tic-tac-toe way, the work insists on being a complete thing in itself and an instrument of vision. With attention lavished upon every square inch of the canvas, down to the very weave of the material, John is interested in quantifying the exact science of seeing.
As with Marlon Sporer's works, there is something downright factual about the abstractness of John Oritz's paintings. The underlying, wobbly grid gives his paintings a form akin to graphic charts. The globular shapes create fields of bilateral influence: the composition seems to come about by displacement of one shape by another. As if by osmosis, the elements migrate to regions of least pressure filling the surface of the painting. The finished work is an accumulation of quantities held in careful balance. To put it differently, John Oritz's compositions anticipate pulses of the observing eye, while retaining the sequential process of the painter's thinking.