David Richard Gallery 211 East 121 Street New York NY 10035
Opens 9 March 2022 Reception 12 March 2022 2-6 pm
Max Estenger Blue, 2020 Acrylic on canvas, clear vinyl, and stainless steel in five parts 81 x 43 inches
By the late ‘80s, abstraction had turned away from private experiences which shaped it, and was passing through what came to be understood as a linguistic turn. The idea “this is art”, as derived from Marcel Duchamp, displaced specificity across the board. This gesture, as it was, laid the foundation for conceptual art, which was misjudged as being in toto against any received ideas about painting.
Max Estenger understood this all quite well. The objects he made at that time synthesized monochrome, hard edge, radical, post-minimalist, and simulationist readings of different types of meta-painting, and firmly resisted generalization as simply “art”. Estenger furthermore described certain conditions which determined the rhetorical dialectics of postmodernity, and insisted upon explicitly social dimensions for his work which had been disdained by typical orthodoxies. He named a divergent emerging program “supramodernism”, characterized not by endless return, but by rigorous analysis.
Reflecting this observation, Estenger conceived his iconoclastic practice as answering to terminal endgame claims of the last painting, and fabricated his work using a syntax which engaged the conventions regarding how an object was made, and how it was seen. Estenger’s painting, Blue, executed in 2020, is a good example of his practice. The artist favors primary colors, and this hue refers to Ad Reinhardt’s blue paintings; the format explicitly recalls Barnett Newman’s vertical canvases. Estenger’s works maintain an ongoing dialogue with the purported sublimity of heroic postwar painting, and the relationships which regulate how these objects are apprehended. For the viewer, a direct experience is had in looking at the work. Estenger shows how his objects are constructed, the manner in which they’re painted, and the relationships they maintain to place. Surface. support, and surround join together to disclose a materialist vision, a critical worldview, and an ethical dimension which, when taken together, implicate clarity, transparency, and truth to materials within the parameters of standard presentation.