Painting in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing) • Michelle Perez, Monica Delgado

Jun 30 to Jul 29, 2017 • Tall Gallery

Twists and turns in the practice of painting are navigated in this joint exhibition by Monica Delgado and Michelle Pérez. The first time for the two artists to show their works together, Painting in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing) gathers their series of recent objects mainly produced using poured and layered acrylic paint: vividly-colored and viscous forms shaped through both controlling the medium and letting it flow.

What the two artists have in common is a sensate respect and wonder for the material qualities and the physical form of paint: how it can go beyond being a means to producing an illusionistic image to being the object of visual perception itself. The medium, reanimated, harbors vast possibilities. When wielded in different ways, paint assumes an entire horizon of colors, textures and shapes: it can flow freely or be contained, cut, coiled, and manipulated.

Pérez shows paintings created in the course of a year through the physical processes of flowing and pouring. Her Color Chart (Influx series), comprised of 48 small canvases forming a color chart, is patiently made through letting multiple waves of poured paint settle on gently inclined canvases to produce muted monochromatic and sculptural planes. The circular work White Water III could be considered as a culmination of such a process: producing forms that connote the flux and ebb of tides. Much bolder hues and more sculptural inclinations, on the other hand, emerge in her Post-it and Paint Drops series made from collaged drops of dried paint fused on to different formats: from the vertical rod to shaped canvases.

Delgado, on the other side, offers parallel explorations of acrylic paint as a physical medium: one, dried as long strips resembling thread or rope and then coiled and tied to wooden stretchers and, two, cut up as composite paint chips and fused into blocs. The series reflects Delgado’s interest in exploring the physicality and materiality of paint as a means to make three-dimensional objects. Paint assumes the quality of other three-dimensional objects: rope and textile, grit and stone for instance. Delgado also shows interest in reanimating the idea of drawing through a series of works in graphite in a gel medium suspension.

Working with this medium and process, Delgado and Pérez explore in their own ways the possibility of painting without the tools of painting: perhaps pointing to how, within the practice of contemporary art, painting may not be in trouble, after all.

—Lisa Ito