Opening September 8th, 2017

On view through October 20th

MAIN GALLERY  Double Cross: STEPHEN BEAL, Recent Paintings



BACK ROOM  BARRY CANTER  Ceramic Sculpture


NEW YORK – 57W57ARTS is pleased to open its fall season with four concurrent solo exhibitions featuring the work of Stephen Beal, Fred Escher, Tom Hackney and Barry Canter. There will be an opening reception for the artists on Friday, September 8th, from 6-9pm, and the exhibitions will be on view through October 20th.

In the Main Gallery, Stephen Beal will present Double Cross: Recent Paintings, a selection of works on muslin and linen completed in 2017. Interested in perception and the intensity of sustained visual examination, Beal employs the grid as the basic structure upon which to explore themes and formal relationships he believes are common in all painting, whether narrative, abstract, or figurative. Citing his early years working in construction and furniture shops, the foundation of Beal’s practice lies in the astute crafting and consideration of his chosen materials. Mindfully engaged in the slow, rhythmic process of preparing each surface and layering the grid’s gracious geometry across the canvas, Beal likens the ritual to practicing scales in music.

In the Waiting Room, artist Fred Escher will present 22 original photographs from H-I-D-I-N-G, his 1972 art publication printed by Rock Co. Publishing. While living and teaching in Wisconsin in 1970, Escher was influenced by the conceptual photo books of two fellow teachers and contemporaries, Robert Cumming and William Wegman. Inspired to produce a photo book of his own though disinclined to take on the role of photographer, Escher asked his friends to take his photos and implored his students to develop and print his images. For his subject matter he used himself, “hiding” in visibly obvious spots - essentially hiding in plain sight: behind a mailbox, under a kitchen sink, or wedged beside a bedroom armoire. Escher’s photographs in book-form serve as a group of collective ideas. In writing about this work Escher states, “The book itself was to be hiding also – with the black cover, and the letters H-I-D-I-N-G dispersed within the book. Hiding the word Hiding.”

In the Project Space, British artist Tom Hackney will present Open Ground, a new collection of monochrome paintings included in his ongoing series, Chess Paintings (2009-present). These monochromes are comprised of gesso or primers, paints that traditionally lie beneath a visible surface, where structural materiality takes precedence over an observable aesthetic. The works in this series are an examination of the challenges posed, particularly to painting, by Marcel Duchamp’s designation of a non-retinal art.Working from Duchamp’s archived chess notation, Hackney transcribes the constituent moves of a selected game into a single, multilayered painting. A linen or canvas support is first divided into the eight-by-eight square grid of a chessboard. The path of each move is then masked and marked sequentially in a layer of paint. As the game progresses, these layers begin to overlap and overlay, resulting in a painted palimpsest of variable density, composed of layers of orthogonal and diagonal sections delineated by ridges of paint. At the end of the game, the squares of the board that remain uncrossed are left unpainted, leaving visible areas of the material support.

In the Back Room, Barry Canter will be present a series of ceramic sculptures. The hand-built vessels are tied to one another through their common initial form: the cylinder. This basic shape is constructed from a flat slab of clay rolled into a circular column of varying dimensions. Various tools are used to create contours in a process that is calculated, but also somewhat disorderly. The design of the vessel will grow from these interventions. In order to create visual cohesion, a smoothing tool is used to integrate the forms into a shape that is articulated, but not quite familiar. As the clay dries, a scraping tool scratches the surface, uncovering a gritty texture that will cause random variations in the glaze. The kiln firing adds a final uncontrolled effect, creating an object that is inspired by, and belongs to, the natural world.