Trojan Horses : Davis Rhodes Dan Shaw-Town, Ned Vena


Painting, mixed media

Trojan Horses : Davis Rhodes Dan Shaw-Town, Ned Vena

Past: September 13 → November 10, 2012

In 1981, the artist and critic Thomas Lawson argued in his discussed manifesto Last Exit: Painting:

“Radical artists now are faced with a choice: despair, or the last exit: painting”,

suggesting pure painting as the perfect camouflage, ’allowing one to place critical esthetic activity at the center of the marketplace, where it can cause the most trouble.’ Thirty years later, contradicting this prophecy, a new generation of radical young artists seems to embrace a rather unconventional approach to the medium of painting which is far beyond painting itself. Bi-dimensional surfaces, often characterized by an intense sparseness, are the field for a powerful dialogue between surface and volume, flatness and form. The planar field of the surface acquires a powerful physicality which approaches three-dimensionality and even cinematic movement. By functioning as a sort of Trojan horse, hybrid new forms, neither drawing nor sculpture, neither canvases nor installations but all of the above deliver subversion and critique precisely to those locations where painting was unquestioningly embraced: in the era of painting’s aftermath a new generation of artists goes beyond painterly abstraction by not conventional painterly means. The three artists présented in this show, Davis Rhodes (born in 1983 in Canada), Dan Shaw-Town (born in 1983 in UK) and Ned Vena (born in 1982 in Boston, MA) — they all live and work in Brooklyn, NY –, share the same references to abstract and minimal american painting and use process and material taken from mass production and signaletique indutry.

Davis Rhodes blends color-field and hard-edge painting with post-minimalist positions in order to explore the relationships between private studio practice and public performance. The works presented in this show, in the sign of a formal negligence which devalues the potential appeal of surface: enamel panels are often populated with cracks, tears, folds, droppings, as if they were remnants of a reality that lived before the painterly gesture. The result of the application of water painting on foamboard, in drying, gives them a curve form and a sculptural presence.

Dan Shaw-Town works are determined by the logic of their chosen materials: econolite, a type of aluminium, plastic composite used in signaletic as a cheaper replacement for aluminum, transparent vinyl, steel. These materials, primarily used in industrial signage manufacture act as both support and surface, encasing the bold enamel shapes and block printed ink gestures, acting together to subsequently transform the viewers perception of the image. The work displayed on the floor materializes markedly the space with sober and essential elements.

Ned Vena’s painting practice reveals also a process taken from the industrial production. Using a industrial ploter, he prints an adhesive vinyl mask on which he applied rubber spray — a material usually employed by car industry for its resistance to every weather conditions and, for the same reasons, by the graffeurs. The final result reveals both the painting and its residual traces: the discernible trenches this removal leaves, the oily aerosol “bruises” that seep through the mask into the linen, and the edges of the numerous individuated layers of paint.

Bugada & Cargnel Gallery Gallery
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7-9, rue de l’Équerre

75019 Paris

T. 01 42 71 72 73 — F. 01 42 71 72 00


Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, 2 PM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

The artists

  • Davis Rhodes
  • Dan Shaw Town
  • Ned Vena