Edel Assanti is pleased to present Tony DeLap: Works on Paper, the first exhibition to focus exclusively on a medium that DeLap has worked in for almost six decades. DeLap has been at the nexus of significant West Coast American art movements since the early 1960s, including minimalism, op art and hard-edge painting. The artist’s second exhibition at Edel Assanti brings together works on paper from the past fifteen years, created using acrylic, collage, gouache and graphite.
In a 1977 interview with Michael Auping, DeLap described his drawings as diagrams that enable him to perceive his own personal space. His works on paper reveal an intimate, experimental dimension of his practice, in which the artist’s love for the “spontaneity” afforded by the medium is immediately apparent. Competing perspectives continually coexist in DeLap’s compositions, which challenge the rules of pictorial space. The eye is pulled in contradictory directions as each form demands to be understood on its own three-dimensional axis, at the expense of its adjacent plane. Distinct in character from the pristine surfaces and flawless execution of his paintings and sculptures, DeLap’s works on paper expose the conception and deliberation behind the balanced tension of his visual order. Pencil lines and compass arcs determine the angle of each form; collaged cut-out shapes interact with areas of densely applied gouache, shifting between foreground and background of the picture plane. Dark shading conjures illusory depth, recalling DeLap’s shaped canvas works whose cast shadows on the wall form an integral part of their composition.
Whilst these works invoke many influences, the artist’s keen study of architecture is particularly evident. The style of early modernists whose legacies are prevalent in California –Irving Gill, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra and Frank Lloyd Wright – contribute to the visual vocabulary and structural sensibility of DeLap’s drawings.
Although almost every work DeLap has made throughout his career has had a preliminary sketch determining its composition and execution, many of his drawings are realised independently, or after the creation of the larger work. This dialogue has inspired a career-spanning commitment to a medium that affords a freedom to experiment, liberated from the concerns of how an object might take material form. The medium continues to open up unchartered terrain for an artist whose vast range of interests – encompassing phenomenology, architecture and magic – continue to shape the formal and intellectual evolution of his art, challenging the ocular limits of perception of form and dimension.
Tony DeLap has exhibited extensively since 1963. His work resides in the permanent collections of Tate Modern (London), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York), the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), and Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts (Lausanne, Switzerland) among many others. DeLap has been included in such landmark exhibitions as The Responsive Eye, 1965, MoMA (New York), Primary Structures, 1966, Jewish Museum (New York) and American Sculpture of the Sixties, 1967, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. DeLap taught for over thirty years at both UC Davis and Irvine, influencing a generation of artists including John McCracken and James Turrell. DeLap lives and works in Orange County, CA.