Through my observation of both my college’s painting department and of the broader art world it is becoming ever more apparent that the act of painting does not actually involve paint itself. Since the mid-20th century the canon of painting has continually been reinvented with many divergences from so-called traditional painting. The current exhibition at the Whitney (closing January 13) of contemporary artist Wade Guyton exemplifies an artist who is questioning and exploring what constitutes painting today.
The exhibition entitled Wade Guyton OS, the “OS” meaning operating system refers to the artist’s method of mechanical production using a computer, scanner, and inkjet printer. Though people may argue that Guyton’s two dimensional works should be called prints instead of paintings I would have to disagree. Guyton can be aligned with the Modernist aesthetic and therefore tied into painting’s lineage, with his vocabulary of dots, stripes, bands, and blocks and enlarged X’s and U’s. Many of his works are printed onto raw linen which makes his machine printed images appear more painterly or at least allow the works to reference the traditions of painting. Though Guyton is using machines that we admire for their uniform perfection, these works are far from that. What is most interesting about these paintings is that the flaws are highlighted which adds an element of spontaneity to what may seem like a controlled situation. There is much beauty in the areas where the printer slips, and sputters and the ink runs dry from the taxing printing process. Guyton’s paintings are a true reflection of how the genre of painting keeps reinventing itself; especially now in our techie world where the possibilities seem endless.
Untitled, 2006. Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen, 89 × 54 in. (226.1 × 137.2 cm). The Rachofsky Collection. © Wade Guyton. Photograph by Lamay Photo
Untitled (Martin Kippenberger, ,,Kindliches Lächeln nach einer blöden Antwort,” 1960, Foto Gerd Kippenberger 16), 2004. Epson DURABrite inkjet on book page, 8 ¼ x 5 13/16 in. (21 × 14.7 cm). Collection of Gregory R. Miller and Michael Wiener. © Wade Guyton. Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Untitled, 2002. Epson DURABrite inkjet on book page, 10 5/16 × 7 3/8 in. (26.2 × 18.7 cm). Collection of the artist. © Wade Guyton. Photograph by Ron Amstutz
Untitled, 2010. Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen, 84 × 69 in. (213.4 × 175.3 cm). Collection of the artist. © Wade Guyton. Photograph by Lamay Photo
Installation view of Wade Guyton OS (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, October 4, 2012 – January 13, 2013). Photograph by Ron Amstutz