Surface Affect

Rey Akdogan, Antoine Catala, Florian Hecker, Sam Lewitt, Paul Pagk, and Raha Raissnia

May 4 — June 24, 2012



In Memoriam Jackie McAllister


Miguel Abreu Gallery is pleased to announce the opening, on Friday, May 4th, of Surface Affect, a group exhibition that brings together six artists working in various media, from sound work and slide projection to painting and video installation. The aim of the show is to foreground how each of the selected works exists first and foremost through the distinct affective qualities of its material surfaces, while simultaneously and in the last instance allowing a degree of critical remove for the viewer.

In HDDH, Antoine Catala positions two flat screen TVs directly opposite one another at a distance and joins them with a large tube that extracts and warps incoming, two-dimensional television images into a closed-circuit sculptural formation.

Engaging with things and materials from theater production, “commercial photography, architectural scenography, and the everyday— among them fluorescent rods, lighting gels, and various forms of packaging—Rey Akdogan puts together assemblages,” writes Alex Kitnick, “that literally objectify the elusive elements of environmental stimulation while never quite cohering into things sturdy enough to be called sculptures.” These idiosyncratic constellations even tend to casually lean against or hang on walls. A small rectangle of dark red carpet with a black motif can be affixed to a piece of Plexiglass forming an angle with a wall. Under this arrangement sits a tube of light with a sheet of gel overflowing down, combining into a relief object that seems to “hang in a state of conflicted potential. If there is something of a mistrust of the power of affect in the artist’s practice,” continues Kitnick, “it has its roots in a wariness regarding the uses to which it has been put by the experience economy.”

Paul Pagk’s lush surfaces of monochromatic, slow colored oil paint inscribed with idiosyncratic geometric shapes produce a potent logic of sensation that seemed to have disappeared long ago from the playbook of abstract painting, that is assuming it ever was part of its vocabulary in such a way in the first place. The subtle balance struck between the fragile and the assertive pictorial elements in each painting renewed, one graphic impulse, one line, one dominant color and surface finish at a time, offers a generous range of somewhat restrained visual stimuli that is capable 0f enhancing the viewer’s alertness each step of the picture’s way.

More in line with the pulverized universe of Leo Steinberg’s paradigm shifting ‘Flatbed Picture Plane,‘ Sam Lewitt stacks a series of hard drive components that include magnets. Here and there in this quasi self-assembling column of computer parts, he inserts a credit card, or any other such magnetically stripped instrument, and cancels its intended operations by exposing it to adjacent magnetic forces. What is simultaneously staged and disrupted here are the active, yet invisible physical properties of an element of nature that has been channeled into various industrial applications.

Previously exhibited in his installation at London’s Chisenhale Gallery in 2010, Florian Hecker’s Untitled is an “apparently monophonic piece in which a single, directional loudspeaker points towards a tiled section of the wall; here, the localisation of the emitted sound oscillates between the speaker and the reflective white surface of the tiles.” Hecker investigates sound in relation to the body and space, employing idiosyncratic psychoacoustic propositions in order to examine and disrupt spatial perception.

For her immersive slide and film projection works, Raha Raissnia collages found 16 and 35 mm filmstrips with hand-processed, hand-painted and manipulated materials she then presses between glass slides, like specimens for inspection. “The variegated components comprising any single slide,” Maggie Clinton notes, “may include segments of a still life photograph with paint and ink drawings reworked and scratched into acetate sheets. After the resulting palimpsest has undergone full treatment, she sets the final slide array into a sequence intensified by projection and injected with sound.”