Blake Rayne’s second exhibition at Miguel Abreu Gallery revolves around a number of paintings, each of which results from a standard operation of construction. Rayne unfolds, primes, folds and directs an aerosol spray of pigment onto a roll of linen from which sections are then chosen, sewn and cropped into a consistent scale. Rayne’s paintings, which situate themselves between a history of reflexive material procedures and structures of linguistic description, produce the canvas as a site of conflict between an impossible autonomy and a dispersed referentiality. If Rayne doubles the readymade weave of his canvas in a textile patterning, one whose folding and merging he chromatically designates, then these paintings are also textualized as scripts of production: displacing the material process into the flat, graphic space of linguistic signs. (Indeed, one might be forgiven for perceiving the spatial structure of distorted majuscules as a result of the folding process through which the paintings are produced.)
Displayed alongside these canvases are the crates in which they were shipped. The latter, hung on the walls along side their supposed content, are cast as the gestural co-presence of painting’s movement from studio, to display, to storage. During the exhibition Rayne will extend the weft which binds his particular type of textile/textual processes, reaching from the material sign of “painting” to yet another container: the gallery will be closed for a set duration of the exhibition, to be re-opened for its final four weeks.
The logic of painterly abstraction which Rayne deploys, thus extended into a gesture of folding – of closing and re-opening – the gallery, weaves container and contained in an imbricated and inextricable relationship: one structuring the other according to the un-sutured fabric of cultural abstraction. Neighborhood gentrification, that which envelopes the gallery as a specific sort of place in a specific time, could be a potentially enfolded element, its cycles and un-even developments closing and opening to certain classes of people and certain types of investment. Far from neutrally designating these cycles, Rayne claims the title of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel, This Side of Paradise, as an emblematic textual element, inscribing a stance onto canvas positioned to one side of the line demarcated by his folds. Rayne describes the novel as illustrating “a moment at which a certain class reflexively discovers the hollowness of the conventions and means of self-representation upon which it is founded, just at the moment before the depression,” and this seems topical enough with Bear Sterns throwing-in the devalued chips that they had so recklessly invested in the sub-prime mortgage debacle. It is that other side, relative to but definitely not paradise, which appears in Rayne’s work as the breakdown of historical projects of painterly abstraction. But this reiteration of breakdown comes latent with new conditions for work to be done, ones which Rayne suggests urgently need to be unfolded.