Brian Calvin | Wendy White curated by Maria Chiara Valacchi
Apr 22 - June 24, 2017 Spazio Cabinet, Milan
In the making of a cinematographic work, the importance of the central actor is often underlined by the number of close-ups assigned, close-ups that limit the scope of the image and place it in the foreground, disregarding the context and augmenting the descriptive efficacy; a component actually equipped with a complex structure, though often forgotten, in painting it can be framed both phenomenologically and ontologically. Brian Calvin and Wendy White linger over the ontology of the peculiar, transforming an iconic detail into the 'revelatory' object and disrupting the system of representation.
Brian Calvin (Visalia, CA, 1969) is not interested in narrative development, but rather in the light and realism that he communicates through the execution of great countenances with abnormal dispositions and imperturbable expressions. In the sharpness of their profiles, lips and eyes, one can see an extreme simplification of features and backgrounds resulting in, with the adoption of an advertisement-like aesthetic, room left to empathetic and open interpretations. Executed in oils and acrylics and anchored to an essentially American cultural and iconic imaginary, his subjects turn into real and signature experimental abstractions thanks to a process of reworking by means of ample jumps in scale, interpolations of texture and shades.
The work of Wendy White (Deep River, CT, 1972) is permeated by iconographic characters, large writing and sport brands, metabolised and used by the artist as archetypes of a personal pictorial code. The fluorescent colour animated by paintbrush and spray gun, together with the solid elements like nets or 3D forms, articulates itself in the overlap of layers in order to escape the classic dynamic of two-dimensional support, and often manages to transform itself into true sculpture. Her works are ripe with contamination and street elements, combining high-class themes with references to a social subculture, all in the process of selecting 'pop' symbols to elevate to art status.
For Cabinet, these two artists have created a body of original works connected through their shared reduction of the image to its fundamental features. White creates flat shapes in black dibond depicting 'pixelated' hearts, crying clouds and stylised rainbows, all of which articulate themselves in the central space of the gallery; suspended from the ceiling and coplanar to the perimetrical walls, they constitute an aerial and chromatic counterpoint to Calvin's three large pictorial close-ups. The critic Aby Warburg asserted, 'God is in the detail', and here the spectator is in fact obligated to closely examine spatiality, temporality and materiality in the works, projecting her or him towards a virgin and analytical path of observation. The two artists distance themselves from traditional practices, revealing immediately the unfamiliar element, discordant and singular, which the critic Daniel Arasse teaches us to interpret as the key to discovering that the work ‘does not only tell a story’ but ‘also thinks it’.