What's on Los Angeles | Index

by Jody Zellen

March 17, 2022

Chase Wilson
Americana Extravaganzoid: Table Edge World of False Empire: Window Time Thoughts of the Center Game of Spirit: Seeing Into the Negative
M+B Gallery
March 5 - April 2, 2022

Chase Wilson

Each of the almost square (42 x 44 inch) oil paintings in Chase Wilson's exhibition is given the long title, Americana Extravaganzoid: Table Edge World of False Empire: Window Time Thoughts of the Center Game of Spirit: Seeing Into the Negative, followed by a numbered parenthetical (1a - 12b) that encapsulates the specific work. The paintings are fragments and appear like croppings from a greater whole. As squares, they also reference Instagram posts-- images that are fleeting slices from the continuum of everyday life.

In the gallery, a selection of works are presented as a grid on one wall. These twelve paintings form a quasi narrative. The trajectory moves from (2a - Cowboy/Wyoming Freedom Emblem), (all works 2021), a sideways depiction of a cowboy on a bucking horse rendered in tones of pink and green derived from Wyoming's Freedom Emblem and ends with 6b - Seeing Ground, or observation of Sky Blue Puzzle Piece for Kent Oconnor, a painting of a lone, gigantic, bright blue puzzle piece that spans the mostly white painted canvas. Within this two row grid are paintings of pages from art and architecture books (10a - Steel Green Weaving and 11b - Bursting Spinoza Dream), images portraying cartoon figures, specifically Beaker from The Muppets (12a - The Amazement), and even close-ups of the artist's studio depicting walls and corners of his space (4a - the corner of the studio and 5a - Untitled Wall Shape while thinking of the shapes of States).

How these paintings relate to one other and the meaning behind the narrative remains elusive, however, Wilson's color palette and painting style command attention. The works meander between abstraction, figuration representing both personal and universal iconography. Wilson draws from memory as in the beautiful painting (2b - 1990s memory of school unity game with fabric), a colorful rendering of a folded picture of students in a gymnasium playing a game where they hold a large piece of red, blue and green fabric at the edges moving closer together and further apart causing the fabric to elevate and fall. The creased picture sits upon a tan-yellow ground that could be a wall or a table. While Wilson's rendering of the figures is more loose than detailed, the colors and gestures convey a sense of movement. A similar feeling is evoked in (4b - Kabul Airport Tragedy) a painting of a news photograph of people gathered around an airplane. While the specifics are ambiguous, the title and Wilson's gestural depiction allude to the urgency of the situation.

(5b - Moving, Sitting, Locked in, Parable to Stasis) is a painting of an overturned office desk chair. One can imagine getting up in a hurry or kicking the object in anger causing it to fall over. Again, while the narrative leading up to the moment is absent, it is possible to imagine a scenario. Rather than depict the full space, Wilson crops the scene honing in on the legs and underside of the chair angled in front of an orange and yellow wall. The metal legs are toned blue, the wheels dark gray and the seat a mustard yellow, an impressionistic rather than realistic representation.

What is magical about Wilson's paintings is the relationship between the details and the rest of the composition. (7b - The shadow of something resting or banal daily still life) is an all too familiar image-- a mask and earbuds casually placed on a desk or table the white and black straps and cords intertwining and overlapping in ordered chaos. Some images like (8b - Under) seem purposely ambiguous, while others including (9a - Image of resilience, growth- through glass) are more straightforward. In this painting, green leaves twist around an orange pipe, perhaps something Wilson observed through his window, relishing and preserving an image of natures resilience.

Created during the years of Covid, Wilson's paintings are focused images of isolation. These close cropped works enlarge every day "stuff," making the banal monumental. They allude to what exists outside the frame, suggesting that what happens in the studio is a mixture of fantasy and reality sparked by memory and observation. Wilson tries to make sense of the chaos of the world by looking hard at what surrounds him.