Marianne Boesky Gallery is pleased to present ILL (nature paintings), Donald Moffett’s seventh solo show with the gallery. The exhibition captures Moffett’s continued conceptual exploration of nature through abstract and organic forms. Over the last several years, Moffett’s consideration and examination of the subject has expanded—fueled in part by the current political climate—to encompass its multitude of definitions, from the phenomena of the physical world to the broader characteristics and essences of the universe at large. ILL (nature paintings) will feature approximately a dozen new paintings, produced through a range of both digital and physical approaches. The exhibition will be on view at the gallery’s 507 W. 24th Street location, from November 7 through December 21, 2019.
Moffett’s multi-dimensional paintings, drawings, installations, and projects have always held within them a social critique, with the formal approaches serving as surrogates for interrogating both the individual body and the body politic. His practice has included work with the artist collective Gran Fury, in the 1980s, which developed a visual vocabulary for exposing the urgency of the AIDS epidemic; the Mr. Gay in the USA drawings, which revealed the pathological brew of homophobia and paranoia that led to a mass shooting and murder; and the 2007 exhibition Fleisch, in which he first began to treat the canvas as a skin that can be cut and sutured to examine different levels of violence and self-destruction, among many more series and works. Moffett has, throughout his multi-decade career, fused formal experimentation with social commentary to create an inextricable whole.
In recent years, with the looming climate crisis, Moffett has actively engaged with the disaster that people have wrought on the natural world. In his 2016 exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery, any fallow field, he captured images of barren landscapes and floral still lives beneath smooth, luminous pours of pigmented epoxy resin. Appearing like memories trapped in amber, the works evoked both a sense of time passed and a future lost. In his newest body of work, presented in ILL, Moffett’s subject matter broadens to engage with the wider nature of things—the seen and unseen connections that bind the universe and its happenings together.
In ILL, Moffett takes up an array of references, from pictographic bleached sea corals, to scans of the human brain, to the vast galaxies spinning deep within the night, blue sky. Produced in a range of colors, from deep black to crisp white, these abstracted organic forms serve as guideposts to a much-needed discussion on how we have found ourselves in the predicaments of today. The featured works also continue Moffett’s vision to break free the canvas from its rectangular confines and the wall. The paintings, which extend forward into space on steel supports, are in instances perforated, punctured, and inflated. Their resin surfaces range from the high gloss pours seen in any fallow field, to a new matte finish that absorbs and softly reflects the light, while also revealing unexpected infiltrations of color. Within these works, the traditional painting form is distorted until collapsed into structural and biological deformations. Despite the ominous undertones, the works in ILL offer important pockets of brightness, as they capture a kaleidoscope of material diversity—one that stands in for the diversity of the world, a world that can yet change, yet again.
Donald Moffett (B. San Antonio, Texas, 1955) currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been presented in a wide range of solo exhibitions across the United States and in London, and is included in the collections of many American art museums.