A reconstruction of a random timeline
September 10 - October 24, 2009
For immediate release
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is very pleased to present A reconstruction of a random timeline, an epic series of dynamic new paintings by Carla Klein. For her fifth solo exhibition with the gallery, Klein continues her exploration of the relationship between photography and painting and the layers of mediation involved in both creating and interpreting images. Emphasizing the inherent flaws in any representational process, Klein's paintings offer their own compelling and authentic visual experience, one that pushes the original image towards abstraction while maintaining a very direct relationship to its source. Using her own photography as a point of departure, these painterly renderings become real objects far enough removed from their subjects that they take on new and different meanings. The resulting exhibition is an immersive 360-degree panorama of grid-like compositions that altogether pushes the artist's practice, in her words, to "create a form of painting where contradictions and oppositions are accommodated and merge into one overall result."
With a vocabulary well established in the artist's past work, Klein's paintings continue to reference the mechanics and materiality of the photographic process. White frames on the canvas reference the edges of printed photo paper; scratches and chemical reactions take form as brushwork. Here, however, the artist has shifted from the large individual photographic print to incorporate the more contemporary experience of scrolling through endless series of thumbnail images on digital screens. Klein's small canvases, installed in grids throughout the gallery, reference the explosion of random imagery that has resulted from the accessibility of digital technology, and explore how we have become further removed from the authentic experience these images portray by their sheer quantity. While these works take the multiplicity and repetition of the contemporary visual world as a starting point, they simultaneously transcend and transform their subject matter.
Streaming in rows and columns, up and across the gallery's walls, Klein's paintings reference dark roadsides, snowy horizons, and still water, rendered in opaque black, inky blue, aqueous turquoise and chalky white. Horizon lines serve double duty as compositional divisions between fields of color. Golden brushstrokes rise and fall on the lower edge of a black field, just as the light from a flash captures the tips of a tree in the bottom of a frame. White circles alternatively stand in for sunlight breaking through clouds, or points where too much water has gathered upon the surface of photographic paper. Finding inspiration in the chance outcome of different images that appear onscreen as illegibly dark (nearly black), Klein makes paintings of the same image repeatedly. Suggesting the results of mechanical printing technology, each canvas features small variations in texture, surface, and reflection, as would result from alternative paper type, gloss, and absorption.
For previous exhibitions, Klein based her paintings on photographs that she took at a discrete time and place - during a road trip to the salt flats of Utah, or the deserts of Texas - but these new works represent a random assortment of photos that accumulated in the artist's digital and analog archive over the past decade. Yet, she finds striking similarities between images taken years apart; in these new pieces time jumps forward and loops back, taking on a random quality. Known for her desolate landscapes and eerily empty architectural structures, in this work Klein explores how depictions of these locations might change through multiple readings and subtle shifts in framing, focus and composition. Each painting exists as a fully resolved work, but simultaneously as one part in a group, and still further, as a small element of a greater, and more coherent visual experience, as the artist pushes the boundaries between painting and installation.
Recent notable exhibitions for Carla Klein include a solo presentation at World Class Boxing, Miami, FL, 2008; Jarla
Partilager, Stockholm, 2007 (solo); Breathing Time, Newcomb Art Gallery, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA,
cat., 2006 (group); Radar: Selections from the Logan Collection, Denver Art Museum, Denver CO, 2006 (group);
Carla Klein, Matrix 218/UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley CA, 2005 (solo); among others.
Carla Klein's exhibition is generously supported by the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam, and The Consulate General of The Netherlands in New York.