Roy Dowell | Gary Kuehn: You Are Free, but Not that Free
organized by RJ Supa
Wednesday, March 1 - Sunday, April 23, 2017
Opening reception: Friday, March 3, 6-8pm
Roy Dowell is a contemporary painter of myths and symbols. His artistic practice separates real objects and events from the language traditionally used to describe them, creating new, layered meanings.
Dowell is a maker and thinker. His paintings empower viewers to exercise freely associative language and experience. What is depicted is a "frank" assessment of the subject matter. Dowell intuitively produces work that is celebratory, playful, colorful, and generous. His paintings are mystical recordings of the human trace.
On the occasion of Roy Dowell’s exhibition at 1969, the Gallery will publish an online catalog, featuring images of all nine paintings completed in 2016-2017 for the exhibition, an essay by Los Angeles Times art critic David Pagel and a transcribed conversation over Scotch between Dowell and painter Alexander Kroll.
Roy Dowell was born in Bronxville, New York and grew up in California. He Attended the California College of the Arts and Crafts in Oakland and received his BFA in 1973 and his MFA in 1975 both from the California Institute of the Arts. He currently works and lives in Los Angeles with his husband of 43 years, the artist Lari Pittman. Dowell's work is in the collections of the Museums of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, the Berkley and Oakland Museum of Art as well as the HAMMER Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and numerous others. Dowell has received a Getty Fellowship as well as a number of other grants.
His work has been presented in one-person exhibitions at the Fawbush, Curt Marcus and Lennon/Weinberg Galleries in New York and at the Rosamund Felsen, Margo Leavin and Tif Sigfrids Galleries in Los Angeles as well as the James Harris Gallery in Seattle. Dowell has traveled extensively, most often in Mexico where he maintains a house and studio. The influences of folk art, crafts and the world's history of objects and decoration are major factors in the development of Dowell's visual vocabulary.
Gary Kuehn: You Are Free, but Not That Free
organized by RJ Supa
1969 Gallery is pleased to present You Are Free, but Not That Free, an exhibition of recent work by Gary Kuehn, organized by RJ Supa.
Starting with new works from the Black Paintings – a series that Kuehn began in 1969 - You Are Free, but Not That Free integrates ideas of containment and freedom and ultimately, free will and determinism.
Kuehn states, “I don’t paint paintings, I make paintings,” giving us insight into his process, which is born of both a sculptural tradition as well as his history as a construction worker.
The process of creating the Black Paintings closely resembles that of mold making. A wooden frame is temporarily attached to the outside of the canvas, then steel-banding material is clamped to the wood, creating an enclosure that he then pours paint into with a syringe. Circular figures are forced to adjust to the square format of the canvas, pushing against the constraints of geometry. The biomorphic shapes that occur are the result of the struggle with the material.
The making of the paintings highlights the tension essential to the work. This translates directly to the sculpture where a more explicit, tangible physicality is present, with two or more forms contending for dominance. Kuehn states that, “the work has to have authority.”
"This tension between forms has been evident throughout Kuehn’s career. The integrity of the dominant, geometric object is generally left intact, but it has been squeezed, pinched, twisted, or contorted. Through these manipulations, Kuehn establishes intimate terms with formalism. His works are often binary or frustrated, exploring psychological dualities within the language of formal art. These works defy Minimalism and geometry, revealing pure forms to have imperfect bodies by displaying open systems that oscillate between positions of weakness/strength, male/female, dominant/submissive, and posit uncertain outcomes.”
All of his work struggles, and subsequently succeeds, within predetermined limitations: “His forms do not follow function, but rather the material of which they are comprised, adapting and subordinating themselves, being conditioned or manipulated.”
This is perhaps, best illustrated by Containing the Divide, an earlier work from 1991, consisting of two plaster hemispheres secured within a steel enclosure, leaving the viewer to wonder if this is a matter of protection or entrapment.
Gary Kuehn was born in Plainfield, New Jersey in 1939 and today lives in New York City and Wellfleet, Massachusetts. He received his MFA in 1964 from Rutgers University where he went on to become a faculty member in Fine Arts. Kuehn’s work was included in Lucy Lippard’s 1966 exhibition Eccentric Abstraction, and Harald Szeemann’s 1969 When Attitude Becomes Form. His retrospective exhibition Between Sex and Geometry was held at the Kusntmusem Liechtenstein in 2014. Recently his work has been exhibited at the Fondazione Prada, Venice; the Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; the Wadsworth Athenauem Museum of Art, Hartford; Michael Haas Galerie, Berlin; and Haeusler Contemporary, Munich.