Review: Interspace Unbuilt @ Space 369

Review: Interspace Unbuilt @ Space 369

Cynde Randall takes an in-depth look at the latest exhibition of John-Mark Schlink & Gregory Fitz's new abstract works at Space 369

For millennia, humans have revered nature, drawn images and created things with their hands. Today, not so much. It is shocking that these deep seated inclinations have been driven into dormancy over such a short period of time. Recent and contemporary technologies have plundered the Earth, wrought unspeakable damage to eco-systems and essentially separated human beings from the physical world that they occupy. Today life is experienced by millions in a trending sea of floating data—fed and consumed in glowing bits on a mobile screen. This has been collectively agreed to. What in the world will happen if the screens go dark?

Through much of art’s history the challenges and possibilities of representation were tethered to nature —with every major move forward, riding on the cultural crest of its time.  It is safe to say that if the Impressionists, early Color-Field painters or members of the Bauhaus could witness our world, they would not believe their eyes. We can speculate that they would make very different images now. For today the stakes of representation are haunted by dislocation—going more to the collapse of the living landscape. Failed corporate dogma has filled the space between the earth and sky with crazy unsustainable structures and systems. Indeed, the world is falling apart. It is within this context that I meditate on artists Gregory Fitz and John-Mark Schlink and their exhibition “Interspace Unbuilt” at Space 369.   

 

Greg Fitz

 

In 2009, Gregory Fitz began an ongoing series of gestural acrylic abstractions that he calls collectively “Sunrise/Sunset”. Through this body of work Fitz navigates the space between abstraction and claimed representation. He locates his images on panels of foam insulation—a ubiquitous and non-biodegradable construction material known, more officially, as extruded polystyrene.  This material is produced in two colors: baby blue (courtesy of Dow Chemical) and pink (by Owens Corning).  These colors, often associated with newborns, belie the toxicity of the material and lull us into complacency—in the same way that poetic phrases like “Citizens United” tell lies as if they were true. Sadly and strangely, these colors serve the epic beauty of sunsets, holding up to Fitz’s range of kinesthetic applications.

Throughout this series Fitz hangs the interspace of his compositions on painted passages that sweep from left to right. This gesture carries the solace of the horizon—locating our position and implying what lies beyond it.  In a signature “Sunrise/Sunset”, Fitz presents a dense construction of upward brushstrokes, mixing blue and crimson, directly, into a dynamic field of purple, set on a baby blue ground. Here Fitz’s “horizon” strikes 5 times across the underpainting, canceling the singular meeting of earth and sky and bending the surface of the work with four territories that occupy different depths of field.  It is a sumptuous and dis-quieting composition.

 

Greg Fitz

 

Greg Fitz

 

Through his recent series “Aurora Borealis” Fitz switches out brushes for cans of spray paint, moving to a format of foil-faced rigid polyisocyanurate foam. Each of these works is loosely under-painted with a semi-transparent ground of blue allowing the foil’s reflection and product logos to read through. In this night sky Fitz floats misty, spray-painted arrangements that are, by turns, tenuous, frenetic or densely obliterating. Day-glow green hauls the freight of the series title. Fitz executes these compositions very quickly. Whatever their energy, they are raw, immediate and “in-your-face”. This is not to say that they aren’t considered carefully. He makes countless structural sketches and likens his process to a skilled musician who lays down an improvisation in several minute’s time. Fitz says that he knows that a painting is worth keeping when it makes the hair on his neck stand up. It makes sense that his editing is so visceral, given that his keepers rely on his body’s movement through space. One can’t help equate spray paint with graffiti but Fitz is clear that these works are not about street vernacular. Still, these difficult paintings appear to tag Fitz’s longing, vulnerability and complicity.

 

John-Mark Schlink

 

The architectonic grace of John-Mark Schlink’s aesthetic provides a stark counterpoint to Fitz’s miasma. Yet his approach to printmaking and the inter-workings of his compositions are equally rigorous and improvisational. The footings for Schlink’s consciousness reside in a childhood partially shaped by his father who was, and is, an architect. While he chose a different path, he remains fascinated with building, noting that the father of Renzo Piano (one of Schlink’s favorite architects) once questioned his son, “Why would you want to be an architect if you could be a builder?”

 

For the last 15 years Schlink has explored the possibilities of architecture through myriad printmaking processes. He works across the matrices of wood block and intaglio, often combining the two. In his most recent bodies of work Schlink forgoes the convention of multiple editions, creating monotypes that rely on multiple plates and blocks, plate rotation, hand stenciling, selective inking and embossing. Through a free-wheeling organic approach, Schlink mediates an illusionary interspace of imagined architecture, built in a 2-dimentional world. Schlink finds his images through the process of printmaking, building layers of information as he responds to each step with the plate or the block.

 

John-Mark Schlink

 

In his recent series—“Schematic” and “Architectural Possibles”—Schlink explores architectural concepts like articulation and folding: simultaneously joining the discrete parts of a continuous structure while preserving the integrity of its details and depicting multiple views of the same structure or site. By and large, Schlink employs a blue palette, calling in the aesthetic of pre-computer site plans and creating an overall atmospheric effect. His faceted, see-through buildings tumble and float in colliding spaces of mysterious purpose. Perhaps they are blueprints for the world that’s coming apart. Un-building seems as much the point of this work—not in a dystopian sense, but more towards the idea of clearing a space so that something new can manifest. Schlink doesn’t reveal a new world order but somehow implies that it’s possible. At the very least, we can say that he provides a dynamic architectonic map for transformation.

The largest of Schlink’s “Schematic” prints were initially planned as vertical compositions but once he saw the first inked run he decided to tip these prints back to horizontal position. By virtue of this decision, Schlink’s compositions no longer stack like buildings but tumble and shatter, like ice on winter’s river. The same image, turned by 90 degrees, sheds its constructed identity—conflating his imaginary city with an undulating, topographical map of the Earth.   

 

John-Mark Schlink

 

Quantum physics teaches that within the consciousness of an intelligent universe, collective and individual intention can alter physical reality. Both Gregory Fitz and John-Mark Schlink prove that it’s possible to mediate what is, with what is not. We know that we are in a fix, but it is possible to re-trace the arc of representation (separation) until our feet hit the ground. It is time for reckoning and with this it only makes sense to face the interspace of our dilemma; choose the sunrise and re-build the world.

--Cynde Randall, April 2016 – with special thanks to Nathanael Flink and Julie Buffalohead​

Interspace Unbuilt opens Friday, April 22nd 6PM to 10PM at Space 369 in the Dow Building during the first night of the St. Paul Art Crawl. The exhibition will be on view through May 18th closing wih an artist talk at 7PM. Gallery Hours by appointment only.

 

#mplsart
If you are making art or looking at art in the Twin Cities, use the hashtag to show it off.
OPENINGS & EVENTS
Wed Oct 18th 6PM - 8PM CST
Bethel University - Olson Gallery
3900 Bethel Dr, St. Paul
Thu Oct 19th 7PM - 11PM CST
Gamut Gallery
717 S 10th St, Minneapolis
Thu Oct 19th 6PM - 7PM CST
Northern Clay Center
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 20th 7PM - 9PM CST
Space 369
2242 University Ave, St. Paul
Fri Oct 20th 7PM - 10PM CST
Grumpy's Downtown
1111 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 20th 7PM - 10PM CST
Public Functionary
1400 12th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Sat Oct 21st 12PM - 6PM CST
Yeah Maybe
2528 22nd ST E, Minneapolis
Sat Oct 21st 2PM - 5PM CST
Groveland Gallery
25 Groveland Terrace, Minneapolis
Sat Oct 21st 2PM - 5PM CST
Groveland Annex
25 Groveland Tr, Minneapolis
Sat Oct 21st 7PM - 10PM CST
Sadie Halie Projects
3653 25th AVE S, Minneapolis
Sat Oct 21st 7:30PM CST Performance
Bethel University - Johnson
3900 Bethel Dr, Minneapolis
Thu Oct 26th 7PM - 10PM CST
Minnesota Museum of American Art
141 E 4th Street, St. Paul
Fri Oct 27th 5PM - 9PM CST
Modus Locus
3500 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 27th 5PM - 8PM CST
Bryant Square Recreation Center
3101 Bryant Ave, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 27th 6PM - 9PM CST
Pirsig Projects
734 E Lake St, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 27th 6:30PM - 10PM CST
Solar Arts Building
711 15th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Fri Oct 27th 7PM - 10PM CST
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
Nov 3rd - Nov 5th
Northrup King Building
1500 Jackson St NE, Minneapolis
Nov 3rd - Nov 5th
Casket Arts Building
681 17th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 8PM CST
Catherine G Murphy Gallery - St. Kate's University
2004 Randolph Ave, St. Paul
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 9PM CST
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 9PM CST
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 8PM CST
Catherine G Murphy Gallery - St. Kate's University
2004 Randolph Ave, St. Paul
Sat Nov 4th 7PM - 11PM CST
Gamut Gallery
717 S 10th St, Minneapolis
Fri Nov 10th 6PM - 8PM CST
Regis Center For Art Quarter Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 8PM CST
Catherine G Murphy Gallery - St. Kate's University
2004 Randolph Ave, St. Paul
Sun Nov 19th 12PM - 4PM CST
Northern Clay Center
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Sun Nov 19th 12PM - 4PM CST
Northern Clay Center
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Sat Nov 4th 6PM - 8PM CST
Catherine G Murphy Gallery - St. Kate's University
2004 Randolph Ave, St. Paul
NOW SHOWING
Sep 15th - Oct 19th
Hair And Nails Gallery
2222 1/2 E 35th ST, Minneapolis
Oct 6th - Oct 20th
Pirsig Projects
734 E Lake St, Minneapolis
Sep 8th - Oct 21st
Bockley Gallery
2123 W 21st St, Minneapolis
Sep 22nd - Oct 21st
Light Grey Art Lab
118 East 26th St, Minneapolis
Sep 23rd - Oct 21st
Soo Visual Arts Center
2909 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis
Oct 7th - Oct 21st
Vine Arts Center
2637 27th AVE S, Minneapolis
Sep 7th - Oct 21st
Textile Center
3000 University Ave SE, Minneapolis
Sep 16th - Oct 22nd
Flanders + Associates
818 West Lake St, Minneapolis
Aug 28th - Oct 22nd
Bethel University - Johnson
3900 Bethel Dr, Minneapolis
Sep 22nd - Oct 25th
Law Warschaw Gallery
Fine Arts Commons 105, 130 S Macalester St, St. Paul
Sep 16th - Oct 28th
Kolman Pryor Gallery
1500 Jackson St NE #395, Minneapolis
Sep 22nd - Oct 28th
Minneapolis Photo Center
2400 North Second Street, Minneapolis
Jul 20th - Oct 29th
Mia's U.S. Bank Gallery
2400 3rd Ave S, Minneapolis
Oct 7th - Oct 29th
Rosalux Gallery
1400 Van Buren Street NE, Minneapolis
Sep 7th - Oct 31st
TOPO Gallery
1500 Jackson St NE, Minneapolis
Oct 6th - Nov 4th
The Porch Gallery
3306 Park Avenue, Minneapolis
Sep 16th - Nov 4th
Midway Contemporary Art
527 Second Avenue SE, Minneapolis
Sep 28th - Nov 4th
Form + Content Gallery
210 N 2nd St, Minneapolis
Oct 10th - Nov 4th
Regis Center For Art Quarter Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Sep 22nd - Nov 5th
Northern Clay Center
2424 E Franklin Ave, Minneapolis
Sep 29th - Nov 5th
Southern Theater
1420 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Sep 29th - Nov 7th
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis
Oct 13th - Nov 7th
Franconia in the City@Casket
1781 Jefferson St. NE, Minneapolis
Oct 11th - Nov 7th
Minneapolis College of Art and Design
2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis
Oct 14th - Nov 10th
Showroom
615 W Lake St, Minneapolis
Oct 12th - Nov 10th
Traffic Zone
250 3rd Ave N, Minneapolis
Sep 15th - Nov 11th
Highpoint Center for Printmaking
912 West Lake Street, Minneapolis
Oct 13th - Nov 11th
Rogue Buddha Gallery
357 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis
Sep 23rd - Nov 12th
The Hive Salon
1621 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis
Aug 17th - Nov 12th
Minnesota Museum of American Art
141 E 4th Street, St. Paul
Oct 13th - Nov 15th
Denler Gallery
3003 Snelling Ave N, St. Paul
Oct 14th - Nov 25th
Circa Gallery
210 N First St, Minneapolis
Oct 6th - Dec 8th
Gallery 13
811 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis
Sep 14th - Dec 9th
Katherine E. Nash Gallery
405 21st Ave S, Minneapolis
Sep 21st - Dec 9th
Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Oct 12th - Dec 21st
Marsden/Gustafson Gallery
550 Vandalia St, St. Paul
Jul 1st - Dec 30th
Smallest Museum Saint Paul
2399 University Avenue, Saint Paul
Oct 7th - Dec 31st
Weisman Art Museum
333 E River Pkwy, Minneapolis
Oct 1st - Dec 31st
Opening Night
2836 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
Oct 14th - Jan 31st
801 Washington Lofts
801 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
Sep 5th - Mar 8th
St. Paul Skyways
426 Minnesota Ave N, St. Paul
Jun 10th - Apr 17th
The Soap Factory
514 2nd St. SE, Minneapolis