Get Loose, the three person show Curated by Tracy McKenna at Rick Wester Fine Art, features work by Cat Balco, Ben Godward, and Jason Rohlf, who all show a knack for unexpected twists of material resulting in exuberant abstracted forms and unorthodox color across the board. The abstract paintings and sculptures in the show prompt loose interpretations of Geometric Abstraction, where the hand is rigorously present.
Ranging from larger paintings on canvas to intimate works on paper the size of a human hand, Cat Balco’s images consistently emphasize a vortex at the core. Her radial forms create mandala-like imagery which brings to mind cosmic symbols like suns or stars resonating with spirituality. Indeed, Balco perceives her painting as carrying multi-faceted narratives running the gamut from ancient Egypt to early Christianity to her New England female ancestors whose repetitive physical labor in the past enables her to paint at present. Through her act of painting, Balco reflects on New England work ethic and the spirituality in making things. That said, McKenna mentions in her curatorial statement that her own entry into Balco’s work is not through spirituality, but rather through the physicality of the artist’s practice.
The notion of labor is also central in Jason Rohlf’s paintings. Constructed with multiple layers of cut, torn, and pasted strips of previously painted work, Rohlf’s thick surfaces are collaged records of his painting process. In both the larger scale canvases and the Shop Rag Project, Rohlf’s ongoing series of paintings made on scraps of cloth used to clean the paint, the artist’s layered marks, drips, and splashes invite the viewer to decipher the painting process. The Shop Rag Project also prompts the viewer to pick up and hold the painted rags, which makes the experience less elitist and more integral to everyday life. Along this vain the exhibit press release compares Rohlf’s process to the work of “a sculptor, a seamstress, a contractor, or a chef.”
Ben Godward’s sleek pigmented resin works resonate with an anarchic impetus. Godward captures within his dense transparent geometries dazzling color forms floating within contained frames and beveled sides, suggesting a two dimensional painting within a three dimensional form. While the beautiful colorful forms associated with sex, food and toxicity may readily read as ironic, their insistent cool materiality paradoxically conjures an unsettling sense of spiritual yearning, albeit of a different kind than may be found in Balco’s and Rohlf’s paintings. The press release eloquently refers to Godward’s work as a Mardi Gras joy, controlled chaos contained and frozen in time, “like insects in amber.”
From Balco’s spiritual evocations, to Rohlf’s textured rags, to Godward’s Mardi Gras Gumbo, Get Loose invites the viewer to celebrate the exhilarating labor of making art.
526 west 26th Street, Suite 417, New York, NY 10001
Artists: Cat Balco, Ben Godward, Jason Rohlf
Curated by Tracy McKenna
Till August 3rd