Blake Rayne, Middlemarch 2020, 2020, digital video (9:17 min)

Blake Rayne has a long-established intermixed approach to painting and filmmaking, often substituting the concerns of one medium for the other as he devises new scripts or programs for the production of exhibitions. At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown in New York City, and without regular access to his studio, Rayne turned to film and the coastal lowlands near Berlin, Maryland, where he waited out the quarantine. This new film is the second installment of his Mingo trilogy, an ongoing project that largely features animal actors and engages various sites indicative of post-industrial American decline. Across this terrain, illegal crab huts built on uninhabitable marshland and abandoned chicken processing plants coexist at the edge of private property. Against this scenery of desolate infrastructure, Rayne overlays narratives of post-human possibility and environmental perseverance. The camera’s gaze is simultaneously reflective, complicit, playful and elegiac, and Rayne interweaves shots that nod toward New Topographics documentary methods at the same time as they do big budget Hollywood.

Satellite view of Berlin, MD and surroundings

In Rayne’s paintings, each zone is broadly composed like a filmic shot, evoking a particular mood, landscape, or abrupt action, which when brought together in a complete work achieve a kind of bricolage of scenes. Described more procedurally, Rayne’s painting practice since the 1990s has produced an array of abstract forms through the use of different iterations of the fold. In this latest series, strips of canvas are folded, sprayed, sewn, and stretched to create unique registrations derived from the folding motion’s inherent generation of obstructions and blind spots. Allegorically, these works can be understood as markers of expansions and compressions in time. The bent-angle creases throughout bring to mind the dog-ear, a mnemonic folding device used to suspend a moment of reading in memory.

Dog Ear #2, 2020
acrylic on canvas and linen
84 x 60 inches

Blake Rayne studio, Berlin, MD

Untitled, 2016, steel banding, paper clips, 5 x 60 x 60 inches

3/4 inch wide steel banding designed to be used to secure crates to their pallets during overseas shipments is here unspooled from its coil and employed to form a drawing in the space, made from the front to the back of the gallery. Once established, this drawing is held together by paperclips and compressed into a frame that shares a dimension with the series of paintings that adorn the walls.

A group of 60 x 45 inch paintings are the result of a similar steel banding drawing, albeit one produced in Rayne’s old Navy Yard studio. The banding was again compressed within a temporary frame around the edges of the paintings and utilized as a soft stencil to create a white looping line lightly dusted with aerated acrylic paint in layers of various colors. The paperclips that initially held the banding together were released to allow for expansion into final shape of each of the line compositions. They now appear as silhouettes, while 8 1/2 x 11 inch US letter-sized portions of the white canvas are left exposed, containing short texts traced in graphite.

For Rayne, painting is not only to be defined through its material components, it also exists as a fleeting sign that requires testing, stretching, and constant reassessment so as to remain alive in permanently renewed cultural circumstances. Taken together, the works in this compact exhibition, which expand from drawing to sculpture, performance to painting, and film to scenography, demonstrate Rayne’s ambivalent, constantly reimagined and dynamic relationship towards the medium of painting.

Untitled, 2017
acrylic polymer and urethane on canvas
60 x 45 inches

These Pellets Here This Powder There, Miguel Abreu Gallery, 2016

In the most general way, my work contributes to a critique of clock-time, which is the primary motif for industrialization and modernity. I’ve taken clock-time to be not of the order of time, but of the order of space: of cut space.


Rayne’s On Fridays We Have Half Days exhibition considers painting as a spatial practice, materially displacing a series of cinematic terms into a group of at once familiar, yet surprising objects.

For instance, the “dissolve” presents a single work comprised of ten pieces of paper individually dyed with Kool-Aid, and printed with an adhesive, which, while drying, is dusted with a layer of 7.66 ounces of walnut shell powder distributed across the individual prints until exhausted. Turning from the gradually dissolving legibility of the still (a desktop frame grab), the print series is completed by a C-print selected from Rayne’s ever expanding catalogue of iPhone image captures of the transparent glass border between the projection booth and the reflective screen in the cinema, in this case showing popcorn aligned on a narrow sill below it.

Untitled, 2014
Suite of 10 silkscreens (Kool-Aid, acrylic, walnut powder, and ink on paper) and 1 Chromogenic print
Framed: 32 1/8 x 22 5/8 inches each
Overall: 32 1/8 x 363 7/8 inches

Untitled, 2015
acrylic on canvas
69 x 48 inches

Cabin of the Accused, Blaffer Art Museum, 2016

For his survey exhibition at the Blaffer Museum in Houston, Rayne gave a tour of the show to a group of art students and handed them each a disposable camera to document the exhibition as they saw fit, in lieu of the traditional institutionally-produced installation shots. After the event, he collected the students’ cameras and melted them together to make a sculpture. That object was the only new work contributed to the show. The student photographs were then reproduced in his monograph, Tense and Spaced Out.

Cabin of the Accused, 2016
3 1/2 x 12 x 9 inches

Untitled, 2010
silkscreened acrylic on dye-printed linen with polyester ribbon
78 x 51 inches

August 21, 2017, 2017-2018, 16mm film transferred to video (2:20 min)

Filmed within the last functioning drydock in New York City, this first installment in the Mingo trilogy stages a dramatic and enigmatic techno-industrial world existing beneath the surface of the East River.

Tense and Spaced Out
Polar Nights, Glacial Chaos, and the Ecology of Misery

May 2017
Sequence Press, Sternberg Press, and Blaffer Art Museum
Designed by Geoff Kaplan, General Working Group
Edited by Katherine Pickard and Tim Saltarelli
Texts by John Kelsey, David Lewis, Jaleh Mansoor, Laura Owens, Sean Paul, and Javier Sánchez Martínez
Softcover w/ flaps 8.5 in. x 11 in., 205 pp., 1161 color images