July 25 – August 15
New Paintings by Blair Vaughn-Gruler
Reception with the Artist Friday, July 25th from 5-7pm
Naming an exhibition ‘The Language of Paint’ suggests that paint has something of its own to say, regardless of or separate from the painter. This may be a surprising idea, as paint is generally considered to be just a tool, a medium, or a means to an end—focused on the expressivity and intention of the artist making use of it. Blair Vaughn-Gruler’s solo exhibition at GVG Contemporary gives the rich and viscous surface of paint a prominent place in her own visual vocabulary, and allows the medium itself recognition as co-creator in making much of the work.
Rich with iconography of symbols and marks, referencing a personal geometry gone wonderfully wrong, the paintings live on surfaces constructed from multiple layers of paint, or built upon an infrastructure of wood or cardboard. The oil paint on the topmost layers of Vaughn-Gruler’s dimensional ‘Shingle Paintings’ seems to be left largely to its own devices, to communicate through “creamy, dreamy, unabashed materiality,” she explains.
Working with a pared-down palette in assorted whites, taupes, and grays, and a (very) occasional pop of bolder color, Vaughn-Gruler imparts a minimalist trajectory to her work, circling a vocabulary of repetition, deconstruction, geometry, and ‘The Language of Paint’ itself. An underlying sense of wry humor is also present in the collection, as in Vaughn-Gruler’s childlike drawings, appearing to take themselves seriously, and her use and presentation of mundane materials not commonly considered the makings of fine art.
The exhibition offers breadth and depth to the viewer, from the pictorial imagery of the drawings to abstract wall-objects made from paint. These objects, particularly Vaughn-Gruler’s ‘Accumulation’ paintings, are often diminutive canvases (6 x 6 x 2 inches) upon which she has constructed a surface through a process of “compulsive gluing”—small pieces of wood in like-sizes attached plentifully to each. In these works, the paint speaks in its interaction with the surface below, through shadows and texture created by the gluing process.
“My work is very much about process these days,” says the artist. “I’m not nearly as interested in the formal qualities of the finished paintings as I am in memes like compulsive mark-making, repetitive actions, and the materiality of the work. I like to set up relationships, and then let the materials do much of the labor; I like an accessible narrative, one that can be understood relative to physicality and actions of the body.”