The Joys of Watching Paint Dry

The Elders, the debut exhibition at Tibor de Nagy (April 20–Might 26, 2023) of the nameless artist new.shiver, follows on the artist’s first, largely unheralded, equally titled exhibition, New.shiver: The Elders, at Satchel Tasks (April 21–Might 22, 2022). After seeing this particular person’s posts on Instagram, exchanging a handful of transient messages, and seeing the precise work at Satchel Tasks and, now, Tibor de Nagy, I’m taken by the artist’s persistence, which isn’t emphasised within the work. No overt indicators of labor and battle will be discerned within the exhibition’s 20 intimately scaled works — all between 4 x 5 and 11 x 14 inches, composed of various densities of paint — which have a tangential relationship to gestural abstraction. 

Once I started occupied with the historical past of oil portray and the alternative ways the labor of mark making has been thought of traditionally — from the artist’s contact to the extent of their craftsmanship to the time it takes to finish a bit — I spotted how these works problem long-held viewpoints about these concerns. Because the rise of Summary Expressionism, labor and course of — the act of placing down and scraping away paint — has gone from being extremely regarded to virtually utterly dismissed. With the rise of Pop Artwork within the early Nineteen Sixties, the artwork world started to devalue the handmade in favor of the machine-made, and has since gone on to valorize entrepreneurship and outsourcing, neatly becoming a member of aesthetic ideas to capitalist agendas. Whether or not we’re taking a look at Andy Warhol, Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, or Richard Tuttle, the removing of the artist’s hand and the downplaying of artisanship are central to the mainstream narrative.

new.shiver, “Leafing” (2022–23), oil and sand on panel, 8 x 10 inches

Each new.shiver and the work collectively titled The Elders subvert these long-held assumptions. In accordance with the gallery press launch:

By means of a means of accretion the relief-like work give the sense that the works developed over geological time, with atmospheric and bodily forces at work. Whereas regularly evolving, the historical past of every portray is seen in its substructure. Undulating, earthly and smoldering colours accumulate till every portray is its personal complicated ecosystem. Time is a vital consider new.shiver’s work. These are long-process work, every work being returned to, and reworked, repeatedly. Within the thickest work, every layer can take months or years to dry sufficient to work with once more. The continual interruption and unpredictable wait occasions droop the portray’s trajectory …

That suspension, and the artist’s persistence, are what make these work distinctive. As a substitute of aligning with the capitalist cliché about time-wasting, “it’s like watching paint dry,” the artist proceeds to do precisely that. “Sunder,” which measures 5 x 4 inches, is dated “early 2000s to 2023,” and others took years as nicely. Why did it take so lengthy to make?

The layered formations and thick, brushstroke-like sections of paint in “Sunder” counsel the earth’s strata. If two of Jackson Pollock’s legacies are “paint as paint” and “fact to supplies,” new.shiver has pushed these in surprising and difficult instructions. In distinction to the velocity and bravura usually related to gestural abstraction, new.shiver slows time in these works, and in doing so invitations viewers to ponder how one may form time passing. On the identical time, the work’ discernible strata and distinctly formed types convey a number of sides of paint’s id, from malleable to mineral-like. These works exhibit that nothing is invincible. 

new.shiver, “Grandma’s Mild” (2022–23), oil on canvas, 11 x 14 inches

An interaction between tonal and coloristic shifts in addition to a bond between the optical and visceral are evident within the works, of their totally different marks, various deposits of paint, and dissimilar mixtures. The months and years it takes to make them are a celebration of time and its vagaries. The palette of blues, greens, browns, reds, and yellows evokes nature, whereas the sensuous materiality of the paint suggests that point’s strain will be embraced. The topographic surfaces, with their malleable types, convey a vulnerability that one not often encounters in portray.

I used to be reminded of the work of Robert Ryman, who says, in Suzanne Hudson’s e book Robert Ryman: Used Paint (2009):

I assumed I might see what would occur. I needed to see what the paint would do, how the brushes would work. This was step one. I simply performed round. I had nothing actually in thoughts to color. I used to be simply discovering out how the paint labored, colours, thick and skinny, the brushes, the surfaces. 

The work of latest.shiver have the same openness and sense of discovery. The works are concurrently severe and spirited. As lovely concentrations of time, they suggest one other way of life in time, one that’s inherently anticapitalist and in that regard is a rejection of the artwork world’s fixation with superstar. Virtually nothing is understood about this nameless artist’s id. The intimate scale of the work, the time it takes to make them, for which it’s essential to let thick layers dry earlier than including extra paint, and the refusal to make use of one’s id as a platform — all of this additional enhances a physique of labor that was a jubilation to find. 

new.shiver, “The Mild Beneath” (2016–23), oil over acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10 inches

The Elders continues at Tibor de Nagy Gallery (11 Rivington Road, Decrease East Aspect, Manhattan) via Might 26. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.