Of the few exhibitions I witnessed while in NYC for this visit. I knew that two of them were high on my desirable list. One was Chris Succo at The Journal Gallery in Williamsburg. Photos all with my iPhone 4, which doesn't have the best white balance.
I first learned of Succo's work from an online article about him and his work. To see someone who seemed so obsessed with white paint was quite interesting to me in this age. So much so that he even has his own custom white made for him.
These paintings are a group of 7 large paintings in the front room and a suite of small paintings in the back room. The hanging of this exhibition was very well planned and executed in my eyes. Thankfully the light was able to diffuse in such a way by being so close to the ceiling that it made it feel like it was almost all lit by natural light. The people behind The Journal Gallery really have shows their passion for making one of the best spaces for viewing art in Brooklyn.
The main painting in the back wall of the main viewing room is quite the showpiece for the exhibition. Filled like the other landscape painting in the show with his famous signature in black aerosol paint. But then counterpointed with a glazing of white over top, done in a manner very similar, if not exactly similar to that of Gerhard Richter. Who is known to him for doing this technique. My knowledge of art history tells me it was done many years before by David Diao and Jack Whitten, but both of those painters did the technique in their own way. Which is what Succo accomplishes here, his own riff on the squeegee method.
Remember you can click on the images and see it's larger size.
The more portrait oriented paintings were filled with mystery. A mystery that discussed to me, Succo's love for painting, and his love of history. Which I saw in the catalog for the exhibition. The man has got one heck of a library in his studio. Enough to make any artist jealous. As my eyes danced over the calm but once violent surfaces, I began to notice the way Succo signs his work. Remember, this was my first time witnessing the work in person. My mind immediately went to another of my favorite painters...Robert Ryman. A painter who signed almost all his work in such a way, that if you looked hard enough you could always find his signature. Succo's work was in that same manner in these works. I even caught myself taking pics of all the signatures I could find from one painting in the images below...found 6.
I began counting Succo's signature within the painting below. Counted 6 signatures.
Playing with surfaces is always something that is of interest to me in painting and these paintings kept me interested for quite the period of time. I usually don't spend that much time in a gallery but this day was definitely different for me.
Usually in my viewing of paintings, when it comes to large work such as this, I usually see the painting accompanied by a thicker stretcher, this was definitely not the case in these paintings. I loved how thin the stretchers were and how it allowed the work to sink into the walls, almost giving it a fresco effect.
In the back room are a series of 12 paintings which I would refer to as "For the love of pleasure in painting". Very happy work that asks you to dare him to not have fun while painting. I can imagine these bringing their new adoptees much pleasure in their lives. Within these works you can clearly, and sometimes not so clearly, see his signature strokes. Which definitely set him apart from others who make this type of "reckless abandon" painting. Each work is also cleverly dated IN the painting. Lush surfaces and even more lush colorings tell me that if you spend some time in this room, it'll bring you out of your funk.
The exhibition DRIVE will be on view until the 21st of June. So if you have been tempted by my talk, head on down and swim in it for yourself.