Purple Diary

[April 10 2010]

The noise Paintings by Kim Gordon

Featuring a series of works on canvas and on paper the show presents Kim Gordon’s recent explorations using paint, lyrics, and personal catch phrases to create a collision of the verbal and the visual, and the discovery of something quite other.
One of the original band members of musical group Sonic Youth, it is as a front line guitarist and vocalist that Kim Gordon is more widely celebrated in cultural circles. The band formed in 1981 and quickly established itself as the source of an energetic, raw new sound deploying alternative tuning and creative methods of noise production. Emerging from the 1970s No Wave scene of New York City, they were highly influential in evolving an alternative musical ethos for rock musicians of the period and those following. Gordon and the other band members were originally art students and from an early stage there was a natural overlap between the worlds of art and music. The group’s sound and performance style pushed at the boundaries of conventional rock music presentation, rigging guitars with DIY-style add-ons in order to achieve particular effects, and playing them in unorthodox ways. This essentially pragmatic engagement with the limits of an instrument’s capacity is echoed in Gordon’s plastic artworks. There is a focus on the material in hand – liquid pigment and paper – and an engagement with the very extremes of the materials’ interactions. Facial features and likenesses are all but eclipsed by the freely handled paint and color, teetering on the brink of self-effacement. In a similar manner Gordon subjects her very themes to the perils of disintegration. Loosely painted words have dripping edges and bleeding contours that threaten to disrupt or annihilate the sense within. There is the feel of un-stylized urban graffiti, of the anonymous, spontaneous scrawls encountered in the profane world. The gesture, the moment of creation, with all its attendant expressiveness is paramount. And yet, as lyrics, and personal catch phrases, Gordon has produced these words before, on paper and on canvas. They are like personal mantras, surfacing repeatedly at moments of creative charge and expression. Based on the names of noise bands, there is a sense of homage, as well as obsession. From the provocative (16 Bitch Pile Up) to the banal (Wet Hair) by way of the more obscure (Sudden Oak), in The Noise Paintings the words find a new unique form each time the artist commits them to a surface. The process recalls the experience of the performer who draws from a repertoire again and again, but each time the delivery is essentially, uniquely distinctive.

The Noise Paintings, at John McWhinnie@Glenn Horowitz, April 8th-May8th, New york

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