R.H. Quaytman

Chapter 12: iamb

December 14, 2008 — February 1, 2009



Opening on Sunday, December 14, Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to present Chapter 12: Iamb, R.H. Quaytman’s first one-person show at the gallery.

Chapter 12: Iamb comprises two sets of paintings, one for a two person exhibition with Josef Strau at Vilma Gold in London and the other for Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York.  Both sets use the motif of a painting lit by a lamp as the foundational image from which the other paintings coalesce.  These exhibitions mark the first time R.H. Quaytman has shown in relatively neutral commercial gallery spaces since 2001.

With these contexts in mind, the subject for this chapter turned back to painting itself and, specifically, its relationship to the blind spot.  Like actual vision, all of Quaytman’s paintings have a blind spot, whether it be from a light source in the picture, an optical illusion, a trompe l’œil effect, the absence of color in a black and white photograph, or the picture in plan. This absence enables them to activate each other and shift the legibility of the neighboring painting.  While the paintings can suggest an alternate position of your body moving by the picture, or literally repel your vision through optical static, they must at the same time affirm their own autonomy.  What they don’t do is suggest what the next painting will be.  They are made to influence flow from one picture to the next. Each painting must enable the viewer to look into it and at it, to focus from near and far , to see it as a part of group or in isolation. The picture always refers back to the painting itself, and then out to all that surrounds it.

For a period of three years – until May 2008 – R.H. Quaytman acted as the director of Orchard, a collaborative artist run gallery in New York’s Lower East Side reconciling the divergent narratives of movements such as institutional critique, Kontext Kunst, and the legacies of Latin American and Eastern European vanguard practices of the Sixties and Seventies. It is perhaps then fitting that her artistic practice reconsiders critiques of the autonomous art object wherein the idea of painting serves as a model for the larger discursive meanings of art. Her use of wood panel as material support and her frequent grounding of the picture plane in photo-based silk screening, underscore the perceptual, perspectival and durational experience of painting as an assessment of the larger social, historical, personal and architectural contexts in which her work appears.