Encountered with Rachel Uffner Gallery while walking around lower east side in NY city during spring break. The new exhibition installed in the gallery’s new upstairs space impressed us.
The relationship between material and abstraction has been a longstanding concern in the work of Sean Raspet, particularly as it relates to what he calls “revisable materiality” – i.e. a paradigm of thought prevalent today wherein material substances are increasingly imagined as malleable with qualities that are fully adjustable and severable. These are the surfactants, emulsifiers, binders of otherwise incompatible ingredients, and flow modifiers that absorb, disperse or work at the interface between active ingredients and different phases of matter. In Phantom Ringtone (2013) propylene glycol, one such ingredient, is used as a medium for a fragrance formulation that is intended to capture the common experience (known as “phantom ringing”) of feeling that one’s cell phone is ringing or vibrating when it is not. The abstract capacity of the cell phone as a communicative medium is distilled into a hallucinatory anticipation that then becomes the basis for a further abstraction into a fragrance formulation that “captures” the essence of this experience. The resulting smell is fleeting and non-specific; vaguely familiar and abstract; almost not there and constantly reoccurring.
In his installations, Strauss Bourque-LaFrance fuses everyday materials into beguiling formal compositions and precarious arrangements that playfully subvert mundane interiors and position domesticity as a mise-en-scene for role-play and disjointed narrative. With these new “vacation paintings,” Bourque-LaFrance addresses his all consuming detachment from traditional painting and its relationship to digital screens and tablets. He manipulates readymade mesh screens and spray paints the foreground and background to create immediate, textured works that hover on the edge between abstraction and representation. Hanging loosely in beguilingly slick, multi-colored Plexiglas boxes they reference both the tenderness of textiles and domestic towel racks with the authoritative formality of historical vitrines