David Rhodes

David Rhodes: "Nocturnes"

January 19- March 31, 2013

Press Release | Images | Essay | Résumé

PRESS RELEASE

Some Walls is pleased to present David Rhodes: "Nocturnes," paintings on linen and paper by the British-born, Berlin-based artist from January 19 – March 31, 2013. This is a unique opportunity to see Rhodes’s work in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Widely exhibited, Rhodes is also a prolific writer about art, most recently for Artforum, The Brooklyn Rail, and Art Critical. Recent catalog texts include writing about: Ernst Wilhelm Nay for Michael Werner Gallery/Mary Boone Gallery; Nathan Peter for PSM Galerie, Berlin; Henri Matisse for Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and Mary Heilmann for Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

Rhodes’s work at Some Walls, all untitled, is part of the body of mostly black, white, and sometimes gray with occasional color, chevron-like paintings that have occupied him for the past few years. Variously thin, taped, near-verticals, under which paint bleeds, make soft-edged lines that zip and zag, running up and down, not quite matching or aligning.

In Rhodes’s images there are hints of signage, design, planning, mapping, traffic, interchanges, grains, wedging, each which their own conditions of place and space, layers or flatness: compact, energetic, open and closed, pressed and stacked, fitted and busting out, the world seeping in, the world beyond the painting, all struggling at the edges of the the conventional, containing rectangle. And there is a sense of playfulness and virtue found in no hesitation, repetition, following process, acceptance of decoration, and the value of work for work’s sake.

Responding to this sense of play, here is a game: which Beatles’ song sounds most like how Rhodes’s paintings look? There are no rules, you just have to feel it, and it works like this: Strawberry Fields Forever sounds like a 1960’s de Kooning clam digger. Pollock’s Blue Poles looks like how Birthday sounds. Glass Onion sounds like a vitrine by Paul Thek. A late Joan Mitchell looks like Savoy Truffle. Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross look like the sound of Taxman ("…if my work were properly understood, it would be the end of state capitalism and totalitarianism"). And as for Rhodes… see images, an essay, and biography.

Upcoming 2013 group exhibitions include: Lion and Lamb, London UK; and JiM Contemporani, Barcelona, ES (Paul Pagk, Laurie Reid, Sam Reveles, & David Rhodes).

Recent selected solo exhibitions: Some Walls, Oakland, CA, Galerie Katharina Krohn, Base, CH; and Centrum Berlin, Berlin, DE.

Recent selected group exhibitions: On Tour at Kunsthaus, Tosterglope, DE; X6 at galerie oqbo, Berlin DE; Futureshock 12 at Galerie Dr Julius, Berlin, DE; Crossing Abstraction II at Galerie-Kunsthaus and Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt, DE; Twin, Twin at Pierogi, New York, USA; Paper Works and Rhyme Not Reason at Janet Kurnatowsky Gallery, New York, USA; Concrete Things at Forgotten Bar Projekt, Berlin, DE; Ramp at Parkhaus, Berlin, DE; Maximal Pleasure at Souterrain, Berlin, DE; and Offon at Galerie Hafenrand, Hamburg, DE.

Some Walls is a curatorial and writing art project founded in 2009 in a private home in Oakland, California. Some Walls is open by appointment only. View the current and past exhibitions online at somewalls.com. To schedule a visit, or for more information, please contact Chris Ashley at info@somewalls.com.

Previous exhibitions at Some Walls:

 

IMAGES

 

 

ESSAY

David Rhodes: "Nocturnes"

Michel Ragon writes in the opening paragraph of his essay about the Russian-born French artist Serge Poliakoff (1906 – 1969) published in 1958:

There are a great many people who refer everything back to the past. Does the present frighten them? Perhaps not, but historical remoteness reassures them. You are unlikely to go wrong in admiring a still-life by Chardin. Whereas, even with Braque, for example, you never can tell… Looking at a modern painting, the public will say: "One might take it for a prehistoric picture." Or before another: "Isn’t it just like a new Greco or a latterday La Tour?" It may be that I have yielded to the opposite deformation, for I am in the habit (which has become second nature) of referring everything to the present. Anyhow, past works of art, I readily admit it, interest me only insofar as they help me to understand, to explain contemporary works. Thus, the reason why I am so passionately fond of certain Italian Primitives is that I can exclaim before them:

"Oh, what a fine Poliakoff!"[1]

On a Sunday afternoon driving across the San Francisco Bay Bridge on the way to Golden Gate Park, on the upper deck of the western suspended span that leads into the City, the vertical suspender cables or rods, called hangers, snapped past peripherally as line and texture, angle and light, suddenly and clearly making me think of David Rhodes’s recent black and white paintings, which I’d hung just a few days before. Rather than the bridge experience helping me see or understand Rhodes’s work, instead I said to myself something like:

"Oh, what a fine Rhodes!"

I have driven across this bridge hundreds of times, and that moment of recognition or resonance seemed more than simply a loose association, but instead an instance of visual leap, overlap, acknowledgement, and synthesis. I thought it interesting that the bridge was seen differently after the paintings, rather than the paintings seen as secondary to the bridge. That changed my relationship to Rhodes’s work; art came first and illuminated life, an experience reduced and dense that makes the paintings, the kind that we call abstract, themselves more real, the actual primary source rather than the painted image abstracted from life.

My attention shifted to the road itself: a straight path, the multiple lanes of blacktop and white lines flickering by, cars moving side by side and shifting across lanes, threads of movement, speeding and slowing, the possibility of exits and on-ramps, narrowing in the distance, the inevitable splitting of directions and departures, the buzz of layers of movement, shifting space, various trajectories: road to Rhodes.

And more: that moment, probably just a few seconds at 55 MPH, opened me to consider something else: on the radio played a favorite Sunday afternoon program, and just then a bluegrass track played featuring guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass. That’s a lot of strings; total it up: four + five + four + eight + four = twenty five, all together a lot of vibrating and resonance, harmony and rhythm, interweaving and synchronizing. The sound of the strings cross each other, going higher or lower, supporting each other, drawing each other out, competing and aligning; I "saw" for a moment a sound that looked like a Rhodes painting.

Later…

Let’s play a game. I thought of this game in an instant when, as I sat down to write, I put on Rubber Soul with the original tracking order, not the American release.[2]

The game is called, "Which Beatles song sounds most like how a particular artist’s paintings look?"

It works like this: Strawberry Fields Forever sounds like a 1960’s de Kooning clam digger. Pollock’s Blue Poles looks like how Birthday sounds. Glass Onion sounds like a vitrine by Paul Thek. A late Joan Mitchell looks like Tomorrow Never Knows. Barnett Newman’s Stations of the Cross is the sound of Taxman ("…if my work were properly understood, it would be the end of state capitalism and totalitarianism"). Philip Guston and Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? Thomas Nozkowski and I Dig a Pony. Rocky Raccoon is Spiral Jetty. A giant Bourgeois spider is I’m So Tired. Just to name a few off the top of my head. Try it and get your own results.

As the first notes of Drive My Car spun out of the speakers I instantly thought of David Rhodes’s recent work.

In Rhodes’s images there are hints of signage, design, planning, mapping, traffic, interchanges, grains, wedging, fitting, each which their own conditions of place and space, layers or flatness: compact, energetic, open and closed, pressed and stacked, fitted and busting out, the world seeping in, the world beyond the painting, all struggling at the edges of the the conventional, containing rectangle.

David Rhodes’s work prior to that with the reduced palette considered here, is rich in color, with repeated circular and oval shapes, some solid and some like thick rubber bands, or squares with rounded corners. Some solid shapes are independent of each other, others overlap, or are cut into sections and occupy larger areas of the canvas. The acrylic-painted shapes may be layered in a glaze effect, making new color where they cross each other. In other works, ovals of the same color touch and form a flat, planar, silhouette image. The rubber band or rounded squares loop, cross, and circle over each other, suggesting a shallow space.

In all of this the circular shape or loop is a record of the artist’s bodily movement; the arm and elbow naturally extends out to make a circular motion. In these simple, natural, body-based motifs the artist exercises several virtues, which become his subject and make his meaning: no hesitation; remain playful; color is to be used freely; don’t fear decoration; repetition is good; working for the sake of working is good; "abstraction" is a real thing; making and seeing is essential to the pulse of life.

Rhodes’s recent work, all untitled, comprises a body of mostly black, white, and sometimes gray with occasional color, chevron-like paintings that have occupied him for the past few years. Earlier works used perhaps a more standard, wider-banded chevron motif (say, the Kenneth Noland-like image, or even the oil company logo, that comes to mind when you hear or read "chevron"). The current pieces are more black than anything else, across which thinner, light bands range, inverting and shifting the chevron to three successeively alternating bands of steep angles, pushing the "V" or its inverted form to "N." Variously thin, taped, near-verticals, under which paint bleeds, make soft-edged lines that zip and zag, running up and down, not quite matching or aligning.

A feeling of casualness and speed result from the artist’s focus and decisiveness at play during the work’s making. Directions of line that are rhythmic and balanced may actually be random; the artist works to determine an effect, but only really knows a procedural consequence once the tape is removed. Using a relatively narrow array of components is refreshing, eye-opening, and validates the sensation of making and seeing. Images range from dense to open; the pace and angles of lines build a range of structures, from stable to in-motion to unsteady, which encourages glimpsing, tracking, and hard looking.

Chris Ashley
Oakland, CA
February 2013

[1] Ragon, Michel. Poliakoff. Golden Griffin Books, Arts, Inc., New York City. The Pocket Museum. Edited by Georges Fall. 1958.

[2] The Beatles. Rubber Soul. Capitol Records. 1966. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubber_soul

 

RÉSUMÉ

David Rhodes (blog)

  • Born in Manchester, UK
  • Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
  • 1975-1979 Brighton / Bristol Polytechnic
    Professors, Hassel Smith and Paul Feiler

    Upcoming 2013 group exhibitions: Lion and Lamb, London UK; and JiM Contemporani, Barcelona, ES (Paul Pagk, Laurie Reid, Sam Reveles, & David Rhodes).

    Recent selected solo exhibitions: Some Walls, Oakland, CA, Galerie Katharina Krohn, Base, CH; and Centrum Berlin, Berlin, DE.

    Recent selected group exhibitions: On Tour at Kunsthaus, Tosterglope, DE; X6 at galerie oqbo, Berlin DE; Futureshock 12 at Galerie Dr Julius, Berlin, DE; Crossing Abstraction II at Galerie-Kunsthaus and Forum Konkrete Kunst, Erfurt, DE; Twin, Twin at Pierogi, New York, USA; Paper Works and Rhyme Not Reason at Janet Kurnatowsky Gallery, New York, USA; Concrete Things at Forgotten Bar Projekt, Berlin, DE; Ramp at Parkhaus, Berlin, DE; Maximal Pleasure at Souterrain, Berlin, DE; and Offon at Galerie Hafenrand, Hamburg, DE.

 

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