Ryan Fontaine + Andrew Mazorol
The Reality of Repeatability
Hair and Nails 11/3 -12/3/2017
By Sean Smuda
The grid, plane and patterning work of Andrew Mazorol has many art historical borrowings, but more importantly is about suspending time and space and accessing inter selves. The finessing of their repeated marks and compositional elements equals the realities of each of his twelve tableaux. Their transitions and moods suggest a seasonal calendar seen from anywhere but here. The act of walking a dog becomes a mise-en-abime gradient from quotidian black and white checkers to an aquamarine sharing of canine space. The 10,000 tastes on a dog’s tongue are calmly held in its shadowy figure but proliferate in dots and stripes throughout its chamber. Planar patchwork divides push the eye in thirds across and up establishing solid perspective, while patterns slightly diminish in size, adding to and flattening its illusion. The scene would appear to be the moment just before “Walk?” is spoken to (sic) dog. This excitement and anticipation repeat throughout the works, the fittingness of house paint suiting their architecture’s domestic-exoticness. Even the minimal composition Night Snake’s perspective is interrupted by the deliberate drip of an interior renovation gone a bit carefree. Rousseau, Stuart Davis, Simon Firth, Seurat, Gauguin, would seem to be brought into dialog with native weavers and the smoke that removes time. If Mazorol’s fantastic palette from house paint can’t get him sponsorship from Dutch Boy and Sherwin Williams to travel the globe as a good will ambassador it only proves their parochial limits.
Meanwhile in the basement Ryan Fontaine continues his challenge to the materiality of the canvas by stitching onto it, contrasting linear dimensionality, bricollaging, and exploiting shadow and stroke. The shapes of his compositions are ready-made designs in Dead Moon. They steal Miro’s reductions to feed Guston’s caricatures, resulting in a Dali-esque profile portrait. A sort of blessed-virgin-kidney-pool shaped piece of raw canvas is stitched around into a water green sky. It emerges from a thin priest collar and
seems to bend inwards, mourning the loss of its ex-machina offspring now floating nearby, black, unknowable. With the gallery floor painted sea foam to match its sky, the viewer is implicated in a gene pool that morphs, extolling contemplation over romance. Countering while extending this, the bust might cross a flesh-tailed mermaid with a Popeye arm collapsed into its chin. This anthro-gyn emerges from an unseen hole parallel to the dead moon. Self-bootstrapped and freed from context, its autonomous design trumps all. Next to it, in overcast business suit grey, Stack is another formal and narrative experiment. It reads as a landscape of transitions from a pillar of vertical drips, to a mound of stilled centrifugal motion, to a seascape horizon. The narrative is embodying dimension as motion; flat, insular, spacious. It’s as if Fontaine received the tri-fold Silke Otto–Knapp show announcement from Midway Contemporary Art and posted his own version back to them. Three other pieces Strap, Black Nitrile Glove and Stilt continue the exploitation of illusion between form and material. Doubling the canvas as sculpture, Strap breaks it into a Fontana-like guillotine with a semi-kidney, semi- automotive sun visor capping it. Different textures of linearity and crosshatch create an arching motion pinwheeling site lines off horizon, cloud, and into the day of bare wall exposed, night of a black perspective strip, and fogged translucent plastic morning. Two body-sized paintings of gloves finish the artistic and quotidian processes of perception and making. Stilt, is a kinetic, stained transformation of glove shape after painting and sculpting’s workout. Black Nitrile Glove’s unembellished slack form forefronts its scale and suggests art’s limpid power. It beckons us without armature into a form larger than the body, a variation on Michelangelo’s Godfinger.
Sean Smuda runs Pirsig Projects and interprets French for Choreographers.
(…excerpt of text by Kristin Van Loon. Complete writing coming soon in H+N ISSUE #8…)
The Reality of Repeatability: Mazarol and Fontaine at Hair and Nails
By Katelyn Farstad
It is hard not to feel trapped by the image we develop and maintain about ourselves. Singing into a proverbial mic, miming epic guitar solos, the game you play when you say that clouds look like dogs or other things. When I take the dog outside, I put it on a leash. When the dog is inside, I let it roam around in my shadow. I smoke to cope with my loneliness. It is when I am around my friends that I feel the most alone- it is weird, I know. If my face looks blurry, it’s because it is. Haloing dark edges- how light can seep through a hairline fracture. We failed to assemble to model spacecraft correctly but we did buy the correct materials. Indecision towards three ambiguous horizons in one view. It will take me the rest of my life to get my sea legs about me. Material and color are always fighting for space. Please respect the tapeline I put on the floor to keep things fair. There is great importance in believing in illusion. The glove dissolves the background. The glove in crisp light ensures a crisp shadow. It is strange how the shadows we create are clearer when well lit. Bloated from over use, repetition breeds a certain relationship to self control- monotony of living- however you choose to dress it up- is an inescapable reality.
Fontaine and Mazorol are two painters who have a deep interest in walking the line between predictability and the improbable outcomes of allowing ones “face to blur”. Mazorol’s use of color and composition situates me in the realm of tarot- where each cards represents some positive aspects but once reversed or flipped, means the opposite. The presentation of the paintings appears like a full tarot reading, speaking universal themes that are inviting the viewer to question space and its aesthetic representation. How pattern, drastic light, and color can suggest realms of fantasy that are hard to insert yourself in.
Fontaine’s dealing with space is different. Aesthetically deconstructing decisions to create a less cohesive body of work that still reads well together. Space is more ephemeral, more confused, but still dealing with form and color in the self- lexicon of reliability, of your own
comfort in making decisions- or taking chances. The struggle of knowing what you want to say, but don’t know how to say it: invites self-reflection. Mazorol is more interested in showing an answer, whereas Fontaine- a question. The ideologies pair well together though have no real overarching connections. We all have heard that art can speak for itself. Fontaine uses an indoor voice whereas Mazorol is struggling to speak audibly at a crowded party.
My tendency to want to find similarities between the works made me remember that is not the point. Both artists represent the necessary space of work that is not about anything. A vision versus an idea. The impetus for repetition is to strive to perfect it or to make oneself clearer, but in art, repetition in a way, becomes mindless, because there is nothing to prove, just things to illuminate. When you are reading a difficult text, sometimes the pressure to highlight certain words or phrases is too much. I always would end up highlighting the entire text. I think maybe all artists do this. Struggle not to highlight everything equally. I think this sometimes takes away much necessary space for mistakes and idiosyncrasies to shine. In both Fontaine and Mazorol’s work there is a struggle to present a self that is neatly compartmentalized and I am glad there are moments of uncertainty, of
fatigue from maintaining detail, from taking blatant left turns with material. If these blips were coherently corrected to fit the peripheral control that the works both suggest, they would be far less successful. The reality of repeatability is that no matter how much you think you’ve got your shit together, there will always be hairline fractures in logic, in planning, in some unexpected turn life takes. You can’t take your aesthetic tendencies with you when you die, but you sure as hell can try.
Katelyn Farstad is an artist and musician living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Farstad drums in Larry Wish and His Guys and plays solo music under the moniker Itch Princess.