Museum Ludwig /
Cologne
 
Wade Guyton
 
<div class="white"> <a class="switch">Text</a><br> <b>Nicolas Trembley</b><br> <span style="display: none;"> Curator and art critic </span> </div>
 
<div class="chapeau">Wade Guyton (Born in 1972 in Hammond, Indiana) is one of the most influential representatives of a generation of artists who think and produce images that reflect our current digital era. In 2014, he was the second artist invited to create an installation for Punta della Dogana’s central Cube.</div> <br /><br /> <div class="col m-10"> <span class="title">Wade Guyton</span><br> </div> <div class="clear"><br><br></div> <span class="alinea"></span>If some of Wade Guyton’s works refer to the structure and language of painting in the traditional sense of the term, they radically modify its codes and modes of production. His method is unique: Guyton’s ’paintings’ are made using very large inkjet printers, through which he runs his canvas several times to print patterns and lettering or simple solids. Errors, drips, and printing defects are accepted, even welcomed, as part of the compositional process, and guarantee the uniqueness of the result. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>The Museum Ludwig in Cologne is dedicating an important retrospective to the artist, to which the Pinault Collection is contributing the loan of two works. The first, <i>Untitled, WG154</i> (all of Guyton’s works are <i>Untitled</i>, followed by his initials and an inventory number), was produced in 2011 for the exhibition «Wade Guyton - Guyton\Walker - Kelley Walker,” which took place in early 2013 at the Kunsthaus in Bregenz. This painting, almost four meters high, is part of a series of three fairly similar dark grey canvases, each of which is smaller than the previous. Their hanging in that exhibition—in a similar place, on each floor of the museum —reinforced the idea of repetition specific to the artist’s work, while blending into the site’s architecture and the grey concrete walls of the museum, designed by Peter Zumthor. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>Starting from a computer file of a grey rectangle at 50% opacity, a reference to the texture of the building’s walls, Guyton continued to explore, with <i>Untitled, WG154</i>, the question of the monochrome. It was also the first time he used a new printer, the Epson 11880; he had not yet mastered its color control and ink diffusion, hence the bold, deep, and soggy appearance of the work in question. The black strip on the left side of the canvas is the result of its second pass through the printer; what looks like scattered smoke on the right side comes from traces of the gesso coating, applied to the canvas before it went through th printer. These traces occasionally reappear once the ink from the machine has been applied to the linen, which itself reacts differently to the ink according to the ambient humidity. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>The second work in the Pinault Collection on loan to the Ludwig is a key piece in the artist’s production, <i>Untitled, WG3514</i> (2015). This is its first public presentation. Following Guyton’s well-known abstract repetitions of computer-generated signs, whether the letters X and U or the image of a flame, which have become part of the icons of art in recent decades, it inaugurated a new cycle of works, a new, more figurative approach in Guyton’s work. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span> For <i>Untitled, WG3514</i>, Guyton used a black-and-white image, a photograph of his workshop he had taken with his phone. In the foreground stands one of his sculptures: the modified tubular frame of a Marcel Breuer chair, placed on the floor. In the background, we can see part of a work in the Black Paintings series, as well as the white wall against which the work leans. It is placed on wooden blocks, positioned against the wall on the workshop’s wood floor. To the left we see what seems to be part of a slack canvas, not mounted on a frame, but likely tacked directly to the wall. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>“To understand my work in a new way, I started photographing it in the studio and producing paintings from these images. It makes perfect sense to use a photographic image along with the tools I use, given that my printers, for instance, were originally designed to replace photography developed in the darkroom…” <sup>1</sup> <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>This canvas marked the start of a new vocabulary for Guyton and generated a metalanguage of works whose common thread is the workshop and its architecture (the floor, walls, windows) as well as the activity that takes place there (the assistants, the machines, the assembly): the production cycle internal to the studio becomes itself the work. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span><i>Untitled, WG3514</i> is also unique in that it has never been reproduced. Similar works in various formats and colors were made using photographs of the same sculpture, with a single painting from the Black Paintings series in the background. This prototypical work, which François Pinault discovered in the artist’s studio, engendered what is considered to be Guyton’s major series, the Black Paintings, first presented in 2016 during an exhibition entitled simply “Wade Guyton,” at the Consortium in Dijon, then at Mamco in Geneva in 2017. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>The eruption of elements borrowed from reality and of the biographical dimension they take in the context of the workshop upset the iconography to which the artist had accustomed us and opened up new perspectives. Recently, Guyton’s imagery has left the studio and turned to the outside, to the city. <br/> <br/> <span class="alinea"></span>By looking at his past work within his recent work, Guyton questions the entire chain of production and representation of art. <br/> <br/> <div class="notes"> 1 — Wade Guyton in conversation with the author, April 2016. </div>
<i>Untitled WG154</i>, 2011 <br/> Epson UltraChrome K3 Inkjet print on linen <br/> 395 × 275 × 4 cm
<i>Untitled WG3514</i>, 2015 <br/> Epson UltraChrome K3 Inkjet print on linen <br/> 213 × 175 cm
 

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