Oil Slicks

Apr 5 - May 31, 2018
David Castillo Gallery, Miami

Denim makes a comeback at David Castillo Gallery in Miami thanks to "Oil Slicks" by artist Wendy White. A symbol synonymous with Americana and cowboy masculinity, blue jeans serve as the ground for White's subversive paintings. Her new denim and paint assemblages showcase the artist's ability to counter cliché with female perspective.  —Cultured Magazine

Oil Slicks is a meditation on the American dream versus the flawed mythos of happiness, optimism and nostalgia. Debuting the newest iteration of her Jeans series, White juxtaposes the tactile and synthetic in brightly hued canvases framed in collaged fragments of denim jeans, resulting in a psychedelic clash of marks and splatters. Hearkening back to velvet paintings of the 1960s, with the addition of timeless denim, these works also lend a knowing wink to current times.

Jeans were invented for the Gold Rush and have found a home in nearly every American era since. By utilizing men’s jeans, long a symbol of American ruggedness and authenticity, White subverts traditional notions of masculinity by recycling the material into two denim heart sculptures. Once rugged and plain, the jeans are transformed into objects that are soft, splattered and nuanced.

Three sculptures made from shiny black dibond punctuate the gallery and further White’s use of optimistic symbolism as talisman. Pixel Heart (Keep on Truckin’) riffs on the famous R. Crumb series, in which men are depicted confidently striding through the world; Double Rainbow stacks two rainbows in a totem as a take on the “Rainbow Man” petroglyph in Barrier Canyon, Utah; and a corner rainbow draws attention to where the wall’s edge meets the floor, creating a new horizon for the viewer.

While the paintings are eye catching and the sculptures feature familiar symbols, White’s world is not without conflict, thus mirroring our own. The myth of American escapism and the enduring draw of the open road are forever linked with our dependence on the oil and gas industry. Happiness comes at a cost, and progress is never a promise. The pendulum swings. The works in Oil Slicks all contain and utilize this dichotomy. Just as in nature, a rainbow is a full circle, but one can only see what’s above the horizon.