For his new series of elegant abstract paintings, on view at Minus Space through February 25, Ken Weathersby drew from seasoned images in old art history books. These books feature simple layouts, often two wide columns illustrated with black and white images. Over time, the paper on which they’ve been printed has darken or yellowed. The paintings thus convey three distinct time frames: when the works in the images were actually made, when the images were captured in the books, and when the pictures were included in Weathersby’s paintings.
Weathersby selects images of statues and reliefs from Greek, Roman, and other ancient cultures, pastes them onto mid-sized painting supports, and then wraps the supports with linen-covered frames so that the images appear to be bordered by the surrounding material. The abstract paintings respond to the shapes, colors, sight lines, and textures of the small sculptures depicted in the inset images.
Weathersby’s sublime matte surfaces feature thinly applied paint and lightly-drawn geometric pencil lines. The compositions are resolutely two-dimensional, like the template grids of the old text books themselves, and each painting is titled with a number–presumably the original plate number of the collaged image.
Weathersby seems to be reminding the viewer that abstract paintings may seem formalist, or, to some viewers, simply decorative, but they are in fact part of a larger timeline rooted in history, politics, and philosophy. With wit and charm, he fuses his interests in Modern graphic design, art history, and ancient sculpture. Weathersby makes erudition seem easy.
“Ken Weathersby; Time After Time,” Minus Space, DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY. Through February 25, 2017.