McClain Gallery is pleased to present DEFINITION, an exhibition of drawings by the late artist Ted Stamm shown alongside paintings by Sylvie Fleury and sculptures by Vincent Szarek. This combination plays off these artists' sincere, yet conceptual approaches to object-making. The show emphasizes the objecthood of their work and source inspiration while drawing attention to materiality, hand-labor, and surface.
These three artists explore structure, the plastic quality of fabrication and materials, objecthood, consumerism, and the removal of everyday reference points via abstraction and re-iteration. A shared interest in surface manifests differently in each artist's practice: the texture of graphite, in Stamm's drawings, finds kinship in Fleury's depiction of makeup powder, the smooth curve of the compact, also Fleury's, is reflected in Szarek's hand-shaped fiberglass sculptures encased in glossy urethane. Fleury, Stamm, and Szarek's all display a commitment to craft and time despite the varied modes of production each employs.
Ted Stamm (1944 – 1984) was a multi-faceted conceptual artist working in SoHo in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s. Many of his inspirations derive from observing everyday objects, experiences, and events, such as finding an abstract shape on the street (Wooster) or lines on a baseball field (Dodgers). While the drawings are entirely abstract and radically minimalist, there is a malleability in viewers' interpretations, and knowing the origin of the form in question is not essential to enjoying the object produced by the artist. The drawings in the exhibition are made of graphite, and are primarily black: a color that Stamm associated with "rebellion, rigor and reduction."
Sylvie Fleury's (b. 1961 Geneva, Switzerland) sculptural paintings pay homage to readily available consumer objects and cultural obsessions with beauty; here, the form of makeup compacts. With a nod to geometric abstraction and minimalism, Fleury's take on a mass-produced object seems fresh again. At an enlarged scale and its form portal-like, the hue of a warm blush feels atmospheric yet impenetrable. The finessed hard-edges of her nestled, shaped canvases emphasize the care she takes in emulating an object revered for its precision.
Vincent Szarek's (b. 1973 Westerly, Rhode Island) work combines two time-honored American traditions: minimalism and pop culture. His sculptures, both wall-mounted and stand-alone, possess an impossibly smooth refinement, a technique developed from his early exposure to automobile shops in Rhode Island and later work on motorcycles. It is this high-gloss, industrial purification of elementary shapes that allows Szarek's work to morph into something completely new. Triangles and hexagons soften into something not unlike the fender of a classic car. Large saucer-shaped discs reflect light from a convex center with a meditative softness and ease. Precision and seriality root the work, deviating from classically minimalist thought in color explorations and a penchant toward the handmade.