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Christopher Russell
Upfor Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Recommendation by Richard Speer

Cristopher Russell, "Aftermath #30," 2014, pigment print scratched with a razor, 54 x 36". Photo: Mario Gallucci. Courtesy the artist and Upfor

Continuing through May 13, 2017

The mixed-media works in Christopher Russell’s “Escape from L.A.” (he relocated to Portland several years ago) stem from an obsessive process marrying digital manipulation with fastidious hand-craftsmanship. In works such as “Framing Exercise #10” (2011), the artist begins with original photographs, which he edits with software — flipping, mirroring, and otherwise altering certain passages into images resembling wallpaper patterns. After printing the composition, he methodically slices into the photographic paper with a razor blade, overlaying the digital patterns with physically incised ones. Sometimes he douses the incisions with metallic spraypaint, which causes the cuts to bloat into tattered, tacky textures.

In “Explosion #22” (2014) he has sandwiched long cracks of broken glass between sheets of Plexiglas, continuing the incision motif. The Plexiglas in the framing of “Explosion #2” (2013) is carved so thickly, the lines’ contours cast a web of dramatic shadows onto the print itself. While these various bodies of work cover a wide array of subject matter and theme — childhood fantasies, apocalyptic explosions, sex in public parks, and waterfall imagery obscured by veils of fabric — the impact of individual pieces is primarily formal, as Russell riffs on the permutations of process, pattern, media and color.

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