Paul Doran, Hunt Rettig and Jason Rogenes
On entering Finesilver Gallery, what appears at first to be a grouping of three widely divergent artists quickly coalesces into three solo exhibitions that share a common theme: materiality.
Upstairs, Paul Doran’s sculptural paintings rise from the wall in swirling strokes, dabs and dollops of thick impasto paint. Squeezing directly from tubes, the artist lays on stripes of intensely colored paint which he blends using a palette knife. The paint can become so densely layered and heavy that bits of material fall off during the drying process. In fact, some of the paint may never dry at all; thus, the works may shift over time due to the force of gravity.
After reincorporating the fallen pieces into the paintings, the artist then adds final layers of brushed paint to create formal investigations into color and gesture, highlighting the abstract nature of the medium itself. The tactile and malleable-looking surfaces of the pieces are inviting in the same way as the icing of a cake stirs the urge to dip and drag ones finger across it. Indeed, most of these paintings resemble fantastical confections concocted by a madcap baker.
In works such as Snapshot, Doran built two vertical shelves out of paint to frame the canvas. He also extends the material over the sides to form cantilevers that brace and extend the painting off the wall. Here, tumultuous oranges, blues, greens, black and white meld together while retaining their intensity. Wide brushstrokes and swatches of color are built up to create a commanding physical presence that confronts the subtle act of gesture painting.
Moving downstairs, the work of Jason Rogenes literally envelops the viewer. His large-scale environments constructed of everyday found materials soar up from the gallery’s first floor and hang from the second floor ceiling over the stairwell. A science-fiction fantasy—complete with white Styrofoam space shuttles glowing from within, looping and twining orange electrical cords plugged into a fabricated circuit system, enormous cardboard pods and watercolor and ink drawings of alternate planets—is played out in the gallery. Rogenes’ childlike model constructions, while incorporating elements of play and whimsy, embrace sophisticated ideas—consumer waste, high-tech versus low-tech and the transformation of architectural spaces.
Hunt Rettig, Open Down, 2004
Mixed media assemblage
29 x 35 inches
With Project 5.07q:JPC3C38173E4, JPC24311284, Trillons, Plugformer 11.08, Rogenes utilizes fresh materials discarded by computer and liquor stores to construct pristine and meticulous fighter ships that resemble crafts from Star Wars and cardboard pods fashioned in geometric shapes large enough to walk through. By using such materials to replicate real space shuttles and related objects, Rogenes invokes a sense of nostalgia that relates back to the days when model building was a popular pastime. In his particular form of model making, Rogenes’ use of throwaway items makes a bold comment on consumerism and our society’s values. The artist equates the worth of packing materials with the items they protect.
Hidden in Finesilver’s Vault Room is the most mysterious and magical of the three exhibitions. Hunt Rettig’s subtle, mixed-media assemblages are hard to classify. Working illusionistically, Rettig creates three-dimensional, sculptural objects out of paperboard, plastic, wood, metal and silicone which he then covers with semi-transparent films to create what appears to be two-dimensional, photo-based work.
Appealing in their ambiguity, the works seem to glow from within. The translucent films reveal amorphous biological and geological shapes and patterns that exude movement when viewed from different perspectives. From far away, the objects look like coiling masses of smoke or polished stones (as in Open Down). On closer inspection the intricate patterns blend and morph into each other and evolve into abstract forms. The simplicity of appearance and the mysterious nature of Rettig’s process make this work compellingly beautiful.
Paul Doran, Cry Me a River, 2003–2004
Oil on linen on board
12 x 12 inches
Jason Rogenes, Project 5.07q, 2004
Installation View, Finesilver Gallery
Cardboard, expanded polystyrene, electrical
components, fluorescent lamps
For each of these artists, materials and process become the primary focus of the work, and although their practices differ widely, this approach ties them together. Working in a variety of media, Doran, Rogenes and Rettig exploit their materials—paint, consumer waste products, ink, film, plastic, etc.—both formalistically and as a way to address contemporary concerns.