Reed Anderson: Welcome All For You

December 03 - January 23, 2021


The Papa Object works of Reed Anderson often animate varying diameters of brightly colored circles overtop semi-obscured antiquities, which are represented as black-and-white Xeroxes. The images are blown up without concern for resolution and floated on solid grounds. One may associate such pictorial playfulness with puzzling games, electroclash playbills, samizdat pamphlets, Modernist animations, avant-garde notation…or quite possibly the provocative logic of a psycho-social experiment never designed by the late Solomon Asch. These posters are micro-curated spaces in which the artist has, in endlessly curious serialized experimentation, introduced elements of geo-abstraction to inventories of fine artifacts within an atmosphere of punkish elegance. The Papas serve as both stand alone works and as poster-like promotions of the kinds of imagery, form and preoccupation deeply imbedded in the artist’s more elaborately constructed paintings.

Anderson is known for obsessively layered painting works that make deft use of the architectonics of incision. He cuts paper to behave like a Möbius Strip: the back is continuous with the front surface, becoming both a stencil and a print, -a tool and the object of its creation. Earlier iterations appear to veer through meditations on visualized thermodynamics, molecular composition, explosive charts of cosmic magnitude, -when in fact they more likely build from the interior instincts of the artist, driving towards a compelling ontology through the processes of their making. In Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 film, Powers of Ten, we advance deep into the infinite innerspace of the human body, then follow the process in reverse by degrees, to unfathomable existential affect. The film attempts to frame a perception of growth and scale, yielding to an apprehension of a Universe both awesome and dauntingly beautiful. Anderson may have dwelled on the insights to be derived from such a film, though his current works have a newly recurring formal element that seems to indicate a scale more oriented to classic painterly understanding of the figure as it is related to its ground. The symmetry of bisecting a plane with a horizon line, a serenely unpopulated Utopia, is a point of departure for his ornately invested process; at once calculated and aleatory. Through a series of gestural folds, surgical perforations and geometric applications of paint combined with techniques suggesting crudely innovative printing procedures, Anderson has resourcefully built a world for his complex forms that we can relate to more as bodies in landscapes and objects as still lifes; wisdom locating meaning in the face of a tsunami or a decomposing bowl of fruit. Submit to the swirling energy throughout the surfaces of these paintings. Follow the looping pathways. The painter captures the visceral experience of brandishing a Stratocaster, its pickups aimed at an amplifier, sending feedback signals cycling again through internal currents while also wantonly propagating outward: A whine washes over the body, probing and attenuating. Think again of the Papa Objects: On a more conceptual level, the use of materials sourced from auction catalogs and rematerialized as artworks that one imagines gaining value through their circulation, indicates a cultural path, -a narrative as recursive as the handling of the generative marks within the very frame of Anderson’s paintings.

A flag we know as an emblem of an institution, a nation, a social entity with an established cultural ethic. Anderson’s Flags are a third body of work crucially intertwined with the first two mentioned. We can look at each: Papa Object, Paintings and Flags as distinct work modes, each attached to cultural histories and connected to personal, internal inquiries. (In this case, the graphics as well as the high-performance nylon used to fabricate the pieces are redolent of Anderson’s youthful velocity experienced in downhill slalom and sailboat racing). And yet each visual system carries key elements that generously aid in the understanding of Anderson’s project overall. He looks to the flag as a rich site for intervention and reconstruction that goes beyond the spinnaker and the trail marker. The formal properties of the flags, shapes that have been sweeping through the Papa Objects, and now underlay the cut/paint entities, are untethered from graphic solemnity to reveal an expressive recoding of design conventions in limitless, poetical configuration. WELCOME ALL FOR YOU. Through his Flags, Anderson becomes an ambassador of his more esoteric artistic territories, closing the distance between worlds. A maritime signal, a symbolic mask, alternative mathematics, extra-terrestrial textiles, the bittersweet disposition of a death shroud lain over a celebrated hero.

-Axel Bishop