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“Unfixed: New Painting”
Arizona State University Art Museum, Tempe, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Katherine Bernhardt, "Sneakers, Computers, Capri Sun," 2014, acrylic, spray paint on canvas, 96 x 120"

Continuing through June 6, 2015

In what some call a post-digital world, the act of painting continues to push boundaries in terms of subject matter, process, technique and materials. Experimental uses of technology and objects, mixed with traditional painting methods, are creating a buzz. “Unfixed: New Painting” adds to the conversation by focusing on just eight works — most of them large-scale — by eight artists, doing much to “unfix” preconceived notions of what painting should be.

Take, for instance, “Sneakers, Computers, Capri Sun” by Katherine Bernhardt, which places the iconography of modern consumerism onto a sunny yellow background using acrylic and spray paint on a 10-foot-wide canvas. Except Bernhardt’s technique is to paint the background last, and making it the most painterly aspect of the work, while the foreground objects are flat and repetitive. Eddie Peake is another painter taking risks, particularly in the way he challenges viewers to connect with his work. The 5-foot-wide “Sisters” is subversive enough with its street art look of spray-painted neon stripes on polished steel. But the S-shaped unpainted portions, revealing a mirror, are downright jarring.

Then there is a witty piece with a lengthy 82-word title by Brad Troemel in which 90 book covers are arranged by color, and dreadlocks and coins surround an actual T-shirt bearing color swatches. And it’s all been vacuum-packed. Curiously, one of the book titles is “The Coming Insurrection,” which could serve as a meta-commentary on painting’s new directions. Also included in “Unfixed” are Hugh Scott Douglas, Jeff Elrod, Daniel Lefcourt, Avery Singer and Josh Smith.

ASU Art Museum: Nelson Fine Arts Center / Brickyard, Ceramics Research Center / Combine Studios

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