Contributed by Sharon Butler / Beat-up paper, runny ink, and crusty surfaces aren’t so prevalent now that preliminary studies can be more efficiently made on the computer and final images crafted without getting one’s hands too dirty or wasting paint. Steve Greene knows that but doesn’t care. Like a musician who prefers vinyl to CDs or downloads, he is defiantly analog–and winningly so. In his second show at frosch & portmann, Greene presents a series of collages and ink drawings. Moving materials around on paper, making mistakes, reacting, adjusting, and repeating the process are the meat and potatoes of his endeavor.
Rather than embracing efficiency, Greene has been working slowly over nearly 30 years to develop a visual vocabulary that shares his missteps rather than deleting them. The fascinating trail of contingencies he leaves tell a far more interesting story than any pristine digital surface can muster.
In individual pieces, Greene might make a crude ink drawing, fill it in, add some scraps of paper, and draw some more using pencil. Printed geometric shapes like circles and squares and numerical charts are clipped from old Uline catalogs and combined with hand-drawn shapes. In this new body of work, a diamond shape has emerged as a motif, but Greene isn’t yet sure what its significance might be. He tries not to think too much about why he’s making a decision until after it is made, but he likes the way the diamond looks when it gets compressed. For Greene, not knowing is one of the most interesting things about making the collages.
Ultimately, even when scrutinized, the meaning is not to be found in the imagery that surfaces from Greene’s fertile subconscious, but rather in the way he puts the images together–slowly, by hand, almost nonchalantly. These are not diagrams of anything in particular. Rather, they are afterimages, artifacts from an unfolding life that chart an unfettered, searching mind.
“Steve Greene, Afterimage,” frosch & portmann, LES, New York, NY. Through October 15, 2017.
Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.
Tags: Sharon Butler