Jeff Elrod

15 October - 23 November 2013

Simon Lee Gallery is delighted to present the first UK exhibition by the Texas and New York-based artist, Jeff Elrod (b. 1966). Following an acclaimed exhibition at MoMA P.S.1 in New York earlier this year, Elrod will be showing a new body of large-scale abstract paintings concerned with the relationship between hand-painted and digitally created mark-making.

His practice is informed by the trajectory of late twentieth century abstraction and the emergence of sophisticated software and print technology. Many of his works are hybrid images which incorporate what he terms ‘analogue’ techniques using acrylic, tape, and spray paint, and ‘frictionless’ digital drawings that originate using familiar programs such as Illustrator and Photoshop. The resulting paintings are characterised by shifts between flat planes and illusory depth and a visual language that oscillates between diagrammatic and ambient, purely abstract and literal, grisaille and technicolour.

The ghost of Abstract Expressionism hovers behind the surface of paintings such as Punch Drunk, Ice Age, Sock in the Eye and Coral Krylon, each of which subverts the notion of the grand expressive gesture. In these works, blotches, scribbles and doodles created on a computer are projected and re-inscribed across two-metre canvases and function as emblems of the technological sublime.

13th Floor Elevator is an upright canvas made up of an array of surface impressions: spots and flecks, streaks and sprays, frazzled lines, misty expanses and areas redolent of lunar topography. Along with its sister painting, Rug Burn, it began as a drawing made on notepaper. Both works were scanned onto a computer, drawn over in Photoshop and printed in UV ink on canvas. In the case of 13th Floor Elevator, an additional stage of over-painting in spray and gesso was then applied, putting into relief a canvas otherwise focused on compressing space on to a flat plane.

In the course of the painting’s development, various motifs are reiterated. The long vertical stroke left of centre on the original drawing was re-stroked on the computer and traced again in thick pinkish gesso on the printed image. This strategy is also apparent in the black and white blur painting, West Gray, where various amorphous shapes are picked out and re-articulated by white glyphs. In I Can’t See Neon, this reinforcement is taken a stage further, whereby white paint partially re-inscribes the grey text of the title beneath it. Indeed this literalism extends into a kind of representational trope in paintings such as Orange Julius and Pass the Dutchie, where half-outlined faces emerge.

Experiments in perspective recur in Elrod’s work and are explored through the use of various techniques for transferring information to a canvas: via acrylic, UV ink, spray paint, tape, etc. In particular, the relationship between the definite line of the tape and the spectral expanse of the spray creates the ambiguity between figure and ground, and keeps the depth of field unresolved. Tape is used repeatedly and contradictorily in this exhibition, sometimes negatively to block out and at others, positively to define. In the black paintings, skinny cables of white tape are peeled away from the black paint and articulate the matte surface while in Coral Krylon thicker squiggles of tape conceal the sprayed green and pink forms behind. In Local Minima, tape is both peeled away to reveal whorls of primed canvas and left beneath the surface of the paint like worm tracks.

Jeff Elrod (b. 1966) lives and works between Marfa, Texas and Brooklyn, New York. He has participated in residency fellowships at the Chinati Foundation in Marfa (1998) and the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (1993). Major recent solo exhibitions include Nobody Sees Like Us at MoMA P.S. 1 in Long Island City, New York (2013) and Focus: Jeff Elrod at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in Texas (2009). Elrod has been nominated for the 2013 Rob Pruitt Art Award in two categories: Artist of the Year and Solo Show of the Year.

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