A few weeks ago, Cary Smith sent me an email with a link to Australian artist Andy Boot’s work. A scroll through his page on the Croy Nielsen website reveals how the Casualist approach can serve a transitional purpose for individual artists. Boot made loosely stretched canvas pieces back in 2008, but by 2013 had begun making freestanding objects out of wood and metal. Now he seems to have returned to a more minimal painting approach — albeit with more traditional supports — applying small squiggly watercolor lines to mostly empty canvas. Perhaps this reversion to custom indicates an engagement with the art market’s embrace of what Walter Robinson, writing at Artspace, recently dubbed “Zombie Formalism.”
[Image above: Andy Boot, Reasons to Buy in Bulk, 2008, oil, acrylic, markers, and canvas on wood. Image courtesy of Croy Nielsen.]
One thing I’m hearing these days, loud and clear, is the hum of an art style that I like to call Zombie Formalism. “Formalism” because this art involves a straightforward, reductive, essentialist method of making a painting (yes, I admit it, I’m hung up on painting), and “Zombie” because it brings back to life the discarded aesthetics of Clement Greenberg, the man who championed Jackson Pollock, Morris Louis, and Frank Stella’s “black paintings,” among other things….
With their simple and direct manufacture, these artworks are elegant and elemental, and can be said to say something basic about what painting is—about its ontology, if you think of abstraction as a philosophical venture. Like a figure of speech or, perhaps, like a joke, this kind of painting is easy to understand, yet suggestive of multiple meanings…. Finally, these pictures all have certain qualities—a chic strangeness, a mysterious drama, a meditative calm—that function well in the realm of high-end, hyper-contemporary interior design.
Andy Boot in “Sunny and Hilly,” a group show at Minerva in Sydney, Austrailia.
Andy Boot, detail.
In Frieze last year, Kari Rittenbach suggested that
Boot’s post-Minimal paintings and sculpture seemed to float,
gently appealing to the viewer through a subtle complex of relations….
The ability of a network to bear out sundry relationships is key to the young artist’s heterogenous oeuvre, which consistently brings together mundane objects and materials in a manner which undermines familiar associations, using economical means to expand the frame of reference beyond the simple juxtaposition of high and low. For Boot, the narrative, like the network, already exists; it is the viewer’s relationship to it and the objects flowing in its stream which require reevaluation – a nudge, or two.
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