Häusler Contemporary München is pleased to first present new paintings and selected historical paintings on paper by Michael Venezia. Our exhibition shows how this important renovator of painting in the 1960s has consistently developed his innovative approach, while constantly recollecting tradition at the same time.
Gestural curves on horizontally mounted wooden beams and painter palettes with gold applications: the new paintings by Michael Venezia (* 1935, Brooklyn, US, lives in Brooklyn and Trevi, IT), which he presents for the first time at Häusler Contemporary’s, seem surprisingly lyrical at first sight. On closer inspection, they prove to be a consistent continuation of Venezia's groundbreaking approach to painting, which nourishes itself from the tension between painterly tradition and innovation.
In the endeavor to overcome and transcend the eccentric gestures and genius cult of the Abstract Expressionist, Venezia was one of the first artists to introduce spray paint into painting at the end of the 1960s. The choice of this means allowed him to generate painting from an interplay of conceptual artistic setting and coincidence. A series of paintings on paper that have hardly been shown so far illustrate in our exhibition this period in which Venezia contributed to the renewal of the classical medium in the postmodern era.
With the current painting series called »Swerves«, Venezia initiates a new phase in his »Block Paintings«, which he has developed since the 1980s: the rectangular blocks of wood joined to »triads« were first painted in monochrome colors on the front and then later animated with different, mostly horizontal brush gestures. Today, they are carriers of almost character-like color swings. With the conscious reintroduction of ¬¬– albeit abstracted – gestures, that actually are drippings of paint straight from the tube, Venezia references the history of painting. He also affirms his attitude that every artistic reaction and backlash is always related to the history of art. In the repetitive momentum and the relationship between concept and chance in the new pieces, one can furthermore recognize a link to his early spray paintings.
The reference to the tradition of painting becomes even clearer in the likewise new series of »Palette Paintings«. Venezia, who never works with a palette himself, makes this emblematic object – the mixing-desk of creativity – itself a painting ground. On top of these he mostly monochrome paintings, he then drops golden and silvery shimmering copper and aluminum membranes. In these almost square elements, the history of geometric abstraction of the twentieth century unites with the classical Christian art, which used golden backgrounds for marking out the Most Holy and that surrounds Venezia in his adopted home of Umbria.
Our exhibition thus illustrates how Venezia consistently explores poles within his painting – those of concept and chance, of image and object, of tradition and innovation – and how he always finds new and surprising expressions for them..