Isaac Aden "Immersion"
March 16, 2021
Immersion, the exhibition of fifteen new Tonal Paintings by Isaac Aden focuses on the formal and sensational qualities of Aden’s most recent additions to his newest series of paintings. Specifically, the exhibition examines the subtle transition of color values, essentially gradients of saturation and desaturation of each color across groups of 6 to 9 paintings as well as within each painting with the subtle shifts between the limited palette of colors: red, blue and yellow. Like the rest of the related Vespers and Auroras series—the subject and title of the artist’s exhibition at the gallery in the fall of 2020—they are painted wet on wet to allow for gentle atmospheric blending of colors on a grey ground. However, all of the paintings in the current presentation are of uniform size measuring 60 x 48 inches (the previous solo exhibition had the same size canvases as well as larger and diptych canvases in vertical and horizontal orientations). Pushing the current group of Tonal Paintings further, toward his objective of achieving the sublime, Aden also delivers radiance and luminosity through: (i) variations in saturation of each hue (as noted above) that are (ii) overlaid on various shades of grey grounds as well as (iii) the highly effective use of fluorescent paints.
About Isaac Aden’s Paintings and Exhibition:
Aden’s paintings are rooted in the traditions of landscape painting, but more specifically, the techniques for creating atmospheric perspective and the illusion of tremendous depth and distances in a two-dimensional picture plane. Creating the sublime achieves the feeling of grandeur, enormity of the outdoors, wonder and awe of nature, sensations of being high on a mountain or on the vast open seas. However, Aden prefers to achieve such sensations through more abstract imagery, where the calculus and concept of space and time as well as the physicality of the that which cannot be seen with the naked eye is best communicated through color and effect. In these paintings, Aden is conveying the movement of time from night to day and back again via the setting and rise of the sun and moon, the resulting changes in the angle of the sun and incidence of light, how sunlight and moonlight interacts with surfaces or microscopic droplets of moisture in the air, each reflecting and refracting the light and the corresponding spectral shifts and changes of the colors as day transitions to night and back again to daylight. All of these changes produce not only tangible differences over time—which are not so easy to convey in a shorter period or moment in time, nor on a stationary canvas—but, it is those rare and split-second effects that are radiant and luminous in that moment and in these paintings.
The artist is not interested in capturing an exact image per se for future reference of a particular landscape, mountains or seascape, not even the birds or animals, nor the moon or sun themselves. But rather, he wants to capture the sensation, the feeling of the light, the atmosphere itself, the emotion instilled in the viewer concerning the grandeur and incomprehensible distances and scale in nature, light and space (think of another historical movement and phenomenon on a different coast).
While Aden is in rapture when conveying atmospheric perspective, light and color as it pertains to landscape painting, he subverts it by not also creating bucolic scenes nor mountain peaks to provide context and scale, respectively. In fact, Aden abandons the traditional format of landscape painting, eschewing the horizontal picture plane and obligatory horizon line and trading that format and composition for one that is vertical with complete immersion in atmospheric space. He literally is putting his head and heart in the clouds and capturing only the sensations of light and color as the earth rotates around the sun and the moon circles the globe. Thus, creating both a tension and conundrum, these paintings live between the heart of landscape painting while also being purely intellectual abstractions full of formal concerns, rooted in historical and conceptual underpinnings.
About Isaac Aden:
Isaac Aden is an artist and curator. His work engages the arc of history through the lenses of the human condition. Aden’s Post-Medium practice has centered its primary research in the area of New Institutionalism. Aden makes bodies of work often tangentially related and even visually disparate with no desire to ascribe an aesthetic conclusion. In this way the practice becomes absorbent and generative.
Aden has exhibited internationally, including: dOCUMENTA 13, MassMOCA, The Fedricianum, White Box, Kassel Werkstadt, David Richard Gallery, Gallerie Rasch, Ulrike Petschel Gallerie, Ethan Cohen Fine Art, SPRING/BREAK, Art Miami, Contemporary Istanbul, VOLTA Basel, Sotheby’s, The Jerome A. Cohen And Joan Lebold Cohen Center for Art. The Bertha and Karl Luebsdorf Gallery, The International Gallery of Contemporary Art, The Parthenon Museum, The New York Public Library, and The World Trade Center.
Aden is on the board of White Box and formerly the Senior Curator at the Jerome A Cohen and Joan Lebold Cohen Center for Visual Arts. He was named the Chief Curator of four art fairs including the AD ART Show at Sotheby’s and the World Trade Center, New York and the Accessible Art Fair. As part of this he developed and executed the first city wide digital art fair, partnering with corporate sponsors including Systech Systems and NBC Universal. Over 13 million people viewed the fair. He has curated over twenty exhibitions, including Jeffrey Hargrave, Escape Route, at the Bronx Museum. He has been awarded Fellowships from the Kossak Foundation, Creative Capital, The New York Foundation for the Arts and the United States State Department. He is currently represented by: Gallerie Rasch in Germany, Marat Guelman in Russia and the Balkans, and David Richard Gallery the Americas.
All Artwork Copyright © Isaac Aden, Courtesy David Richard Gallery. All photographs Yao Zu Lu