April 15, 2013

Not Your Average Joes

Artists Joe Reihsen and Joe Hoyt have more in common than a shared first name.  Both are talented young artists working in Los Angeles.  Both employ interesting and unconventional methods of paint application in their work.  And both currently have strong shows on view in the Los Angeles area - Reihsen with Clean Title, No Accidents at Anat Ebgi Gallery and Hoyt with A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery.

Joe Reihsen, The Wind Was Blowing Hard, 2013, acrylic on panel, 34 x 31 inches

Joe Reihsen, I Should Have Gotten Your Number After The Orgy, 2013, acrylic on panel, 19 x 18 inches

Reihsen's new paintings are a blast to look at.  The unnaturally vibrant colors that shift and shimmer across the surfaces of his paintings will probably be the thing that draws you in, but it's the paradox inherent in each work that will keep you lingering.  His painting style is passionately gestural yet coolly mechanical at the same time.  The title of the show, Clean Title, No Accidents, seems to hint at the fact that Reihsen's haphazard looking "brushstrokes" are probably not haphazard at all.  (Or maybe he just bought or sold a car recently).

Installation view of Clean Title, No Accidents at Anat Ebgi Gallery

Likewise, the paintings seem to occupy a place between abstraction and representation, with Reihsen employing a slight trompe l'oeil technique to exaggerate the depth of his surfaces.  In that sense, the works are representational images illustrative of abstract marks - like Lichtenstein's brushstroke paintings - and not purely abstract (if such a thing even exists).  There's contemporary precedent for this as well, in the work of painters like Laura Owens and Tauba Auerbach, but Reihsen manages to employ the technique in a way that's all as his own.

Joe Reihsen, Busty Bombshell In Pasadena, 2013, acrylic on panel, 15 x 19 inches

Joe Reihsen, Made Me Feel Elated, 2013, acrylic on panel, 18 x 18 inches

Joe Reihsen, Surface To Air, 2013, acrylic on panel, 18 x 15 inches

Joe Reihsen, Sleep Depravation, 2013, acrylic on panel, 12 x 12 inches

Paintings by Joe Reihsen on a shelf in the back room at Anat Ebgi Gallery

Whereas Reihsen uses machines (pneumatic devices and commercial painting tools) to mimic or enhance the look of handmade gestures in his work, Hoyt uses his hand in a way that mimics a machine.  His small pen and ink drawings at Aran Cravey Gallery are meticulously rendered images of areas in and around Los Angeles, built up in layer after layer of tiny black dots.  The scenes Hoyt depicts, chosen from "the Central Valley communities that will be linked by the first phase of California's controversial new high-speed rail system," are subtle and mundane but captivating - as are the drawings themselves.

Drawings by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Drawing by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

While the small drawings read like intimate sketches in a personal notebook, Hoyt's paintings in this show have a slightly different vibe.  In the paintings, Hoyt enlarged and transferred his drawings onto raw stretched canvas - interestingly choosing to stick with ink as the medium.  In some, color has been introduced in the form of ink washes reminiscent of a Morris Louis Color Field painting.  At a larger size, the fragmentation of the drawings becomes much more palpable and strange.  The images take on a surrealist quality and judging by words like "memory," "fragment" and "perception" in his press release, it seems likely that Hoyt intended for this to be the case.  Artist R.H. Quaytman comes to mind as another possible point of reference for this work.  Not only are there some stylistic similarities, but the dialog between Hoyt's paintings and drawings in this show also raises parallels.

Installation view, work by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Installation view, work by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Painting by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Painting by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Painting by Joe Hoyt, detail

Painting by Joe Hoyt in A to B at Aran Cravey Gallery

Joe Hoyt's exhibition A to B is on view at Aran Cravey Gallery in Venice through May 19, 2013.

Joe Reihsen's exhibition Clean Title, No Accidents is on view at Anat Ebgi Gallery in Culver City through May 25, 2013.

(Image at top: Paintings by Joe Hoyt, left and Joe Reihsen, right)

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