CODE Art Fair, Copenhagen

26 Aug 2016 - 28 Aug 2016

For the first edition of CODE Art Fair in 2016, Dürst Britt & Mayhew is proud to present a solo exhibition by American artist Joseph Montgomery.

The mainstay of Joseph Montgomery’s oeuvre consists of two different types of work. There are the minimalist, monochromatic shims on the one hand and the collages on the other. Both kind of works have the structure and syntax of sculpture, but they simultaneously have all the trappings of painting. This blurring and confounding of classification lends them a strange sense of hybridity.

For Montgomery the works represent different kinds of labour. The shims are composed of a generative, readymade material, the 16 inches long, tapered wedges you can find in the lumber section of any American DIY store. Rearranging them, assembling them, is another way of representing painting. Painting for Montgomery is not the pursuit of one ultimate masterpiece but rather a collection of choices, starting from the ground up, to reach an image-like quality. For his collages he is basically attracted to the classical portrait format with which he creates layered abstract images, which are often reminiscent of faces or muzzles.

Montgomery takes this kind of caricaturization a step further in his most recent, slightly larger and flatter works. They begin as self-portrait pencil sketches on paper, emphasizing a large nose and long hair and perhaps a gender fluidity. The sketches are then vectorized and assigned colours in the computer. Then they are printed on plastic with an emulsion that interacts with alcohol in order to be transferred onto canvas. The goal is to have a single action image production through the transfer process on to the canvas. Chance, liquidity and manipulability take over from then but the artist decides if satisfaction is achieved in that single action.

Besides shims and collages Montgomery also works in other media. He for example makes dolls out of the same wedges he uses for the shims. These figures can manifest themselves physically, but also in the form of animations. They are like avatars that represent an anthropomorphized image of labour. In the animations the doll repeats elementary human actions over and over. Painting for Montgomery is ultimately not about expression: painting is a verb, a repetitive tool, a possibility to keep working.

Joseph Montgomery (1979, Northampton, MA, US) lives and works in New York. Recent solo exhibitions include Rules for Coyote at Dürst Britt & Mayhew, DOLLS (with Sherrie Levine) at Paula Cooper Gallery, Heads, Calves at Laurel Gitlen, Doll Index at Peter Blum Gallery and Five Sets Five Reps at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). His work was also shown in the seminal group exhibition Painter Painter at The Walker Art Centre in Minneapolis. Work by Montgomery is held in private and public collections, including the Centraal Museum Utrecht.


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