Gallery Y: Hollis Brown Thornton “The Land Between Solar Systems”
Gallery X: Jon Waldo “I’ll Never Say Never to Always”
April 12 – June 1, 2013
Opening Reception: Friday, April 12, 2013, 6-9pm
Linda Warren Projects is pleased to usher in the spring season with exhibitions by two artists with practices that draw from the past in order to present its contemporary significance in a fresh light. South Carolina-based artist Hollis Brown Thornton and New York painter Jon Waldo each present their second solo exhibitions with the gallery. In Gallery Y, Thornton’s “The Land Between Solar Systems” mines the breadth of digital advancement for signifiers that have been lost in the shuffle, while in Gallery X, Waldo extols ordinary icons in his exhibition, “I’ll Never Say Never to Always.”It’s clear that the digital age has changed the way that we experience the world, and Hollis Brown Thornton finds within this constantly developing dialogue a catalyst for artistic investigation. Thornton looks to the experiences of his generation –the generation that has witnessed first hand the dawn of digitalization, embracing then leaving behind quickly outmoded media like Atari and VHS tapes. Thornton’s work emphasizes that though technological advancement is a part of our lives, we still harbor a fondness for the objects of the past that undeniably carry memory and meaning.
Beginning first on the computer, Thornton’s compositions are then photo-transferred to his painting and drawing surfaces, where the making process is alternately covered over and exposed, the layers a physical manifestation of the kind of change that parallels the inconstant nature of memory. Throughout “The Land Between Solar Systems,” Thornton conjures up instantly recognizable imagery from the past, along with imagery that jogs a viewer’s memory, but escapes immediate understanding. Works like Han Solo, in which the sci-fi hero is hand-painted and distorted with chunky pixilation, and 3 1/2 Inch Floppy Disk, a permanent marker rendering of a floppy disk labeled “Radiohead, OK Computer” amidst a floral wallpaper ground, each require viewers to reconcile personal recollection and contemporary significance. Some works peer through the murky lens of the past, while others, like VHS, allow us a new and unexpected point of view. Here, the image of the ubiquitous video tape is pixilated to such an extent that it borders on abstraction — a diffusion of its visual cues and also its former functionality, prompting the question of what to do with these relics whose heyday has long passed, but still linger in the present.
While in this exhibition Thornton locates impetus in computer technology, Jon Waldo looks to multiple sources for his iconic, nostalgic imagery from within the language of the ordinary. “I’ll Never Say Never to Always” is chock-full of familiar, kitsch symbolism. Motorcycles, automobiles and engines are surrounded by radiating, multicolored lines, glowing like neon signage. Harleys and Pintos strike the nostalgic tones, and Waldo’s Ouija board Planchette (Black) harkens back to the innocence of childhood. Many works ascribe to a vintage pop mentality, though some, like the rickety white shack in Cabin, feel more intimate and homey –a much different sort of vernacular that summons narratives as varied as the viewers who look upon it.Waldo’s paintings are all networks of line drawings, wrought in low relief on the canvas, either as the multihued main central image or as raised, monochromatic shadows of the primary figure. The artist’s unique making process begins with a line drawing that is then translated into a stencil through which artist’s modeling paste is squeezed onto the canvas. For the very first time, these stencils will be exhibited along with Waldo’s paintings, to be considered as art objects in their own rights. In “I’ll Never Say Never to Always,” Waldo elevates these skeletal remnants of the painting process, mingling the history of the paintings’ making with the histories already embedded within this iconic, but commonplace imagery.
Hollis Brown Thornton is continually inspired by the American South, where he currently lives and works in the city of Aiken, South Carolina. His work has been exhibited around the world in such venues as if ART Gallery in South Carolina, the Aiken Center for the Arts, the South Carolina State Museum, Kansas’ Wilmington Street Gallery and Thirteenth Floor Gallery in Chicago, as well as numerous exhibitions with Aisho Miura Arts in Tokyo, Japan. Thornton received his BFA in 1999 from the University of South Carolina.
New York-based artist Jon Waldo began his career amongst the 80s punk scene in New York, and has since had his paintings featured in such galleries and institutions as Columbia University School of the Arts, New Jersey’s Shore Institute of the Contemporary Arts, and La Mama La Galleria in New York, as well as in publications including The Brooklyn Rail and Art & Antiques. Waldo received his BFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. In addition to his full-time pursuits as an artist, Waldo raises triplet teenagers in the city of Manhattan.