BLANK SPACE is proud to present a new series of work by New York based painter Matthew Langley in his third solo exhibition with the gallery. This new work is an elaboration on his last show that marked a radical change in his practice by moving away from his earlier grid-based paintings. The Unified Field will be on view at BLANK SPACE, 30 Gansevoort St., New York, from November 9th until December 14th, 2018, with an opening reception on November 9th from 5 to 7 pm.
Langley’s earliest work, scraped paintings that draw focus to their weight and materiality, was regimented, controlled, and always bound by the strict lines of the grid. In 2014, Langley decided to break with the format and began to experiment with smaller paper works. These pieces are in many ways thematically and stylistically related to his earlier practice, but offer a lighter and more free form approach to the abstract color-field. From these small pieces, which the artist still paints one a day, were born the larger canvas and paper works which make up much of this current series.
The Unified Field draws on notions of experimentation, history, and physics. Langley says, “The biggest thing that I learned when I began doing the small paper works was to just let the ideas flow.” By allowing himself to be less restricted in what he paints, Langley maintains his core theories of art making without having to create a rigorous system within which to do so. As this technique has progressed, so has the visual complexity of the imagery. In his second show with the gallery, The New Paintings, the pieces were slower and more immediately meditative. They focused on calm gradients with only one or two gaps within each work. The Unified Field paintings intensify the color-field with rapid undulations of saturation and hue, and multiple breaks in the continuity of the image. The effect of this is a shift in motion that lingers with the viewer and unfolds slowly as the many layers of under-painting reveal themselves.
In conjunction with this idea of experimentation lies a connection to the unified field theory, an attempt to meld together each of the understood physical interactions of matter with an intangible and yet to be fully discovered field. This is perhaps best articulated by Langley’s gridded display of small paper works, something the artist has been doing from the beginning of his new practice. While each piece is independent and intended to speak for itself, the surrounding work informs one of Langley’s larger ideas; that there is something indefinable about visual art making which makes the task all the more important. When displayed en masse, the pieces play with and off of one another and their individuality and visual language is defined not by opposition, but by difference. This individuality is solidified by Langley’s approach to the innate subjectivity of his work, always careful only to hint towards his personal connection and understanding of the work with his carefully selected titles or, “shorthanded poetry”.
Matthew Langley received his BFA from Corcoran School of Art in 1985. Since then, Langley’s work has been shown extensively in the United States through numerous group and solo exhibitions. Langley’s paintings have also been included in various public and corporate collections including; the International Museum of Collage, Assemblage, and Construction, The Doris Patz Collection at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC), DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities, Ernest and Young, PNC Bank, University of Baltimore and MacAndrews & Forbes. He currently lives in New York City and works from MANA Contemporary in Jersey City.