Abstract Factions 


Abstract art has as many different origins as it does goals. Whether abstract painting is characterized as being spiritual, material or conceptual in nature, the genre has never adopted any one set of rules as its working ethos. Instead, abstraction has been thoroughly duplicitous since its inception. Early abstract painters grouped themselves together under the ideas of Art Informal, Tachisme, Art Concrete and many other monikers, but it’s important to recognize that each of these different camps proved to be as unique as the artists involved, making the practice of abstract painting far more plural and open-ended than one might first suspect. 

Even with more than a hundred years of exploring the potential of abstract art to inspire and amaze, the genre still hit something of an impasse in the opening decades of the 2000s with the advent of Zombie Formalism (ZoFo). Understanding this phenomenon means looking for those forms of abstraction that have resisted the tropes of zombification. The signs of this aesthetic affliction are many, including gimmicky gestures, provisional aims and a lack of strong thematic content. Worse yet, ZoFo didn’t simply die out when its aesthetic commitments came up short and its market value collapsed. Instead, it started spreading to other genres that were already teetering on the brink of irrelevance. Its most recent victim was “the new figuration” – often called Zombie Figuration – but this curious phenomenon also makes us ask why the language of infection became the dominant discourse in contemporary art in the years leading up to a global pandemic, and why it has continued to play an even bigger role in how we assess the value of artistic production today. 

The artists included in Abstract Factions have not only diagnosed many of the problems associated with ZoFo, but they have each come up with a cure for the spread of anti-vanguardism in abstract art. Whether by way of playing risk against restraint or mapping disparate territories of experience and affect, the painters working within the expanded field of visual legibility that we call abstract painting are engaged in acts of resistance to ZoFo that take the dialectic of infection and cure to be one of the defining questions of contemporary art. While there may be no one solution for what ails abstract art in any given era, the artists included in Abstract Factions have demonstrated the enduring relevance of the genre by producing works that are sure to capture the attention of viewers for generations to come.

Artists in the show: Charley Alexander, Jonathan Apgar, Quinton Bemiller, Vincent Chung, Bill Dambrova, Tom Dunn, Kent Familton, Rema Ghuloum, Audra Graziano, Yvette Gellis, Jenny Hager, Mike Jacobs, Dion Johnson, Michael Kindred Knight, Christopher Kuhn, David Michael Lee, Michelle Jane Lee, Joe Lloyd, Mike McLain, Maysha Mohamedi, Ian Pines, Mark Pomilio, Max Presneill, Alison Rash, Bryan Ricci, Travis Rice, Nano Rubio, David Spanbock, Marie Thibeault, Chris Trueman, Walpa D’Mark and more TBA.



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