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Editorial: Recommendations
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Stuart Arends
at James Kelly Contemporary, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Recommendation by Alex Ross


Thomas Arends, 'P.D.F 10,' 2009, oil paint and beeswax, 3 1/2 x 2 5/8 x 2 5/8''

Continuing through May 29, 2010

Over the course of the past three decades Stuart Arends has engaged with  the foundational principles of Minimalist practice. A tautly focused retrospective of his works, "Past + Present" maps the artist's trajectory since adopting the box-form as a structuring agent of his art. The show succinctly encompasses objects and drawings from the span of his career.

Determined to underscore the literal materiality of his paintings, the artist adopted parallelepipeds formed by discarded materials as the supports for painted works in 1981 - migrating his theretofore wall-mounted practice to the pedestal top. Though including several early examples of his painted and varnished found cardboard boxes, the show takes as its central focus the artist's current "PDF" series of intimately scaled, beeswax sculptures cast from milk and juice cartons.

Foregoing Minimalism's avoidance of external referents in order to comment on quotidian experience, and eschewing the movement's focus on industrial facture for manifestations of the poetics of the handmade, the series pay homage to Piero della Francesca's richly modulated applications of ultramarine while critiquing the increasingly hands-off techniques favored by today's often PDF-dependent, computer-driven artistic procedures. United by their cycladic palette, pint-size proportions, and subtle translucence, Arends's latest works have evolved to manifest an equally inspiring and visually nourishing collision between Early Renaissance influences and the broadening scope of contemporary experience (including, truth be told, the dairy aisle).


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