In the last few years, much has been made of hybrid paintings that re-purpose canvas and stretcher bars to create sculptural objects. In her solo at Jack Shainman, Leslie Wayne takes a brilliant tangent, presenting small-scale objects made from oil-paint skins that she folds to look like cloths.
In the exhibition’s catalogue, critic David Pagel writes elegantly that “these three-dimensional paintings are category-straddling mongrels in love with a kind of fugitive formalism and a sort of renegade realism, both of which invite visitors to reconsider established interpretations of these ordinarily opposed approaches to, and understandings of, art’s purposes and priorities.”
Wayne takes as her subject the accidental beauty found in the stains created on painting rags from wiping out accidents and cleaning up mistakes. Rather than simply stretching a few old rags (or floor tarps, as many painters have done), however, Wayne painstakingly creates objects that reference the paint-soaked cloths. The objects are teeming with rich associations, from drapery painting lessons in foundation art classes, to ribbon candy, cake icing, circus and cabana tents, Cousin Itt (of the Addams Family), Miss Havisham’s drapes, Balzac’s cloak (per Rodin)…and more. What carries the pieces beyond the wonder of Wayne’s process is that they are full of contradictions: tough and delicate, pragmatic and whimsical.
In this video, Wayne explains her unusual process, which involves applying paint in thin layers and then carefully removing it from the surface.
And here, Wayne talks about the new pieces’ relationship to previous work and her ongoing interests in landscape, geology, and layered materiality.
“Leslie Wayne: Rags,” Jack Shainman, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through March 22, 2014.
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