Isaac Aden "Vespers and Auroras"
Updated: Dec 12, 2020
Tonal Painting 26, 2020
Oil on canvas
60 x 48"
David Richard Gallery is pleased to present its first solo exhibition for New York-based artist Isaac Aden. The presentation consists of a stunning series of 16 new paintings that are interrelated and produced with the same method and approach. They are reductive, ethereal and introspective paintings that formally explore tonal ranges of color in roughly three distinct, yet related color palettes and three different dimensions (nine measuring 60 x 48 inches, four at 60 x 96 inches and three additional verticals at 96 x 60 inches). The canvases are mostly vertical and host subtle horizontal transitions of desaturated color. The paintings are moody as they trigger those rare moments as the sun ignites a new day or gently fades into the evening. In the aggregate, the paintings capture singular moments within a day or much longer period of time. Inherently, these moments and views reference the landscape, which adds to the complexity of this series as they also read as pure color abstractions in a mostly vertical portrait format.
The exhibition will be on view September 9 through October 4, 2020 at David Richard Gallery located at 211 East 121 Street, New York, New York 10035, P: 212-882-1705 and by appointment and online at the following link: https://www.davidrichardgallery.com/exhibit/512-issac-aden.
About the Exhibition:
This new series of tonal paintings by Isaac Aden appear as reductive and straight forward explorations of color at first glance, the artist stated the “paintings seem elusively simple, delicate, and subtle.” Yet, they are quite complex in their methodical production that includes many layers of underpainting and color mixing on the surface using spray and wind from outdoors to bring an element of chance and serendipity. The “canvases are made of gentle horizontal transitions of desaturated color, which evoke transitional atmospheric periods”, according to Aden. He also says that “the relationships between colors have an implicit relationship with time: fleeting, ending, beginning, and always passing. This elicits a more subjective response in the viewers, as each (painting) will have their own relationship to time and the memory of its passage.”
These paintings are also quite complex in terms of the diverse art historical references and nods toward Minimalism, monochrome and Color Field painting. Aden is passionate about curating exhibitions and being mindful of art history, knowing his sources of inspiration and historical references. The paintings are reductive as stated, with a limited palette and void of line, form or representational elements. While they are part of a repetitive series and comprised of spray paint out of a can, any possible similarity to Minimalism ceases beyond that point. As described below, they also cross far over the line of being only an object because according to Aden, these “paintings have a relationship with representation and naturalism”. The paintings also have many layers of underpaint applied with the artist’s hand in a wide range of colors that provide the richness and warmth of color as well as the mysterious internal depth. Thus, based on the foregoing, they are also not monochrome paintings since they have myriad colors even though they harmonize to similar values and emotional feelings, but not a single hue. Aden tells us, “there is a distinct relationship to the Color Field paintings of Mark Rothko and Barnet Newman,” however the artist “strips bare the gesture associated with modernist authorship in favor of a mechanical approach by using sprays.”
The color palettes and ethereal imagery evokes atmospheric landscapes in the distance as well as skyscapes. Aden says that the paintings “are informed by naturalism, realism, romanticism, impressionism, tonalism, and the Hudson River school. He further states that the “paintings follow a genealogy of Western painting rooted in the pictorial developments of the Claudian landscape. History painting was regarded as one of the noblest subjects of art and since the gothic period figural elements would dominate the pictorial space and yet a vista would often be included in the background, often with small figures to show the scale of distance. Claude Loraine’s approach to history painting eventually developed to include similarly small figures, however, the same scale relationship would exist with the figures, the foreground obliterated in favor a vast landscape, and so, the small figures in relationship to the landscape would evoke the sublime or the vastness of the natural world.”
There are two important aspects of this body of work that ties the formal and conceptual underpinnings together. The first, in the artist’s words, relates to the color in these paintings as Aden describes, “painters preoccupation with the land as it appears sensorially and not as it is known cognitively lead to the developments of impressionism and tonalism. The desire to paint elusive moments and the effects of light and atmosphere lead away from rational color of the empirical in favor of a spectrum of impasto dabs and mixing on the surface to create a more natural picture. The fascinations with light also lead to drab and blurred pictures informed by the knowledge that the realism of color is rooted in grey. Beyond pure color, grey is the tonal value of color that more frequently exists in the natural world.”
The second aspect of this series goes beyond the formal quality of color and more to the transcendent quality and effect that color has on the viewer. Specifically, at that fleeting moment when day transitions to night or night becomes day, situating the paintings between the beautiful and sublime. Aden tells us that, “Immanuel Kant considers the categorical distinctions between the beautiful and the sublime in his book Observations on Feelings of the Beautiful and the Sublime, stating, “The night is sublime and the day is beautiful.” It is in this transitional space that Aden’s paintings exist and where they derive their energy and meaning.
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.
About David Richard Gallery:
Since its inception in 2010, David Richard Gallery has produced museum quality exhibitions that feature Post War abstraction in the US. The presentations have addressed specific decades and geographies as well as certain movements and tendencies. While the gallery has long been recognized as an important proponent of post-1960s abstraction—including both the influential pioneers as well as a younger generation of practitioners in this field— in keeping with this spirit of nurture and development the gallery also presents established artists who embrace more gestural and representational approaches to the making of art as well as young emerging artists.
In 2015 David Richard Gallery launched DR Art Projects to provide a platform for artists of all stripes—international, national, local, emerging and established—to present special solo projects or to participate in unique collaborations or thematic exhibitions. The goal is to offer a fresh look at contemporary art practice from a broad spectrum of artists and presentations. The Gallery opened its current location in New York in 2017.
All Artwork Copyright © Isaac Aden, Courtesy David Richard Gallery.
For additional information please contact:
David Eichholtz, Manager
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