Abstract Critical

Material Images

Written by Nate Hitchcock

Kari Altmann
Trudy Benson
Petra Cortright
Franklin Evans
Lauren Luloff
Michael Manning
Jessica Sanders
Kate Steciw
Rebecca Ward
Jeff Zilm

Material Images, curated by Nate Hitchcock, is on at the Johannes Vogt Gallery until the 5th of April. The text below is the exhibition’s press release.

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

 “Material Images” brings together 10 artists whose practices encompass a diverse range of formal and procedural strategies. Tying them together are their concerns with abstraction and issues of materialization surrounding the status of images today.

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Abstraction has taken an interesting turn in recent years. There has been a proliferation of abstract images, though not necessarily produced by artists. Abstraction is sitting on the surface of cultural production in general. Images today exist halfway between depictions of things that might exist in front of us and generalized forms. From the poorly Photoshopped cover of a teen fashion magazine to the icons on our smart phones, there is a conflation of the abstract and concrete, the image and the object, the static and activated, the unique and the serial, belief and disbelief.

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

The show aims to investigate how the fact that images are no longer what they seem is expressed in current art making. As images are no longer of something, but images that move and take on a life of their own as they are processed, constructed and filtered through collaborative information networks, the meaning they carry is multifaceted. Traces of their routes cling to them as cultural forces move them between formats and image contexts. On this journey, the depiction eventually wears thin. Left behind are images that are akin to an acceleration of “first name recognition” such as “Thank you, Andy.” They are seemingly distilled but heavily laden. Strategies for artistic confrontation with this current state of image making are varied. The selected group of artists contends with and acknowledges these mechanisms of manipulation as ideological structures for visual production to work with, or to work against.

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

Material Images installation view. Courtesy of Johannes Vogt Gallery

  1. Geoff Hands said…

    So, Nate, are you saying that the artists represented in this show derive their imagery (for making paintings) from exiting images? Images that construct the contemporary (post-modern?) visual environment for the consumer (all of us capitalists). Simulacra of some kind? Reminds me of something Dick Hebdige wrote: “But all is not lost…postmodernism has helped us rediscover the power that resides in little things, is disregarded details, in aphorism (miniaturised truths), in metaphor, allusion, in images and image-streams…” (from ‘A Report on the Western Front’ reproduced in Art in Modern Culture’ p.340)
    Reference to Abstraction seems to imply something ‘provisional’ for these artists.
    Actually, I wonder if these young artists are seeking a subject matter for themselves, bereft of purpose in this ‘pluralist’ era?

    • Geoff Hands said…

      In the first sentence I mean “existing images” of course. Though exiting images has possibilities! (My other typing error is in the Hebdige quote – “…in disregarded details…”

  2. Robin Greenwood said…

    Not got a lot of competition, has she?

    Images on a journey through “mechanisms of manipulation as ideological structures for visual production”, eh! Well, I never! Are you sure they’re not just ambiguous junk? But then you wouldn’t want to make a value-judgement about the work, would you… ? Just slather it with incomprehensible verbiage.

  3. Robert Linsley said…

    I would agree

  4. Sam said…

    For me the Lauren Luloff painting (diptych in last 2 jpegs) looks the stand-out work. The bottom right-hand corner with the combination of cut-out and painted shapes especially interesting.