Free Play, KANSAS, New York, NY

Installation view.

June 24 – July 30, 2011

KANSAS is pleased to present its inaugural exhibition Free Play, a group show featuring new works by Melissa Brown, Brendan Cass, Max Galyon, Jesse A Greenberg, Sylvan Lionni, Matthew Northridge, Shannon Plumb, Zach Rockhill and Tamara Zahaykevich.

“Freeplay is the disruption of presence. The presence of an element is always a signifying and substitutive reference inscribed in a system of differences and the movement of a chain. Freeplay is always an interplay of absence and presence…”
– Jacques Derrida, Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of Human Sciences

Melissa Brown’s work often takes on themes of traditional landscape painting. Working now on canvas, Brown folds printmaking techniques and stenciling to apply layers of material into her painting practice. Her new series of rockscapes underline the embedded and unique patterning inherent in the objects and scenes in her depictions. This repetition of elements yields a precise but handmade, all-over surface.

Brendan Cass uses modest images of archetypal – generally European – landscapes, most often found in travel brochures, to generate his expansive and energetic paintings. It’s within the ambiguity of image that Cass finds an improvisational margin to articulate a scene and explores the notion of the way in which experience relates to memory through place. The artist builds a near bas-relief painted surface composed of clumps, pours and skeletal remains of pictures past. Cass applies brushstrokes of various sizes and speed to create his forms, and spats of paint frequently punctuate his pictures.

The quiet scenes of Max Galyon’s paintings tell a story in the absence of narrative clues, and draw upon Americana tropes to navigate the viewer through the compositional space. The interchangeability of recognition and seeing – not as representation, but manufacturing a primary experience out of the past – is a central issue in his work.

Jesse A. Greenberg’s wide-ranging and opulent works in plastics exercise and stretch material possibility. Synthetics can be seen as analogous to technology – liquid, expanding, changing – and it’s the speed of this process that turns once modern machines and objects into cultural relics. It is the confluence of technology and production that inform Greenberg’s work and advancement. Often interactive or touchable, his visceral sculptures exist alongside a larger body of work that incorporates video, dance and collaborative music, and performance.

Appropriating the forms of industrial articles and stripping them of their utilitarian purpose is a strategy Sylvan Lionni has been employing for years – faded American flag stickers, lotto tickets and computer keypads – Lionni translates these sources into his own lineage of dead-pan picture making. His expertly crafted hard-edged works display a labor- intensive painting process. They retain a deceptive but devout allegiance to the handmade despite their machine-like effects, often rendered with alternative materials and non-traditional painting methods.

Contained within Matthew Northridge’s work are serial arrangements, collaged patterns and architectonic constructions. Whether composed of variable units in real space or networks on paper, rules are decided and a system developed from many parts. Much is borrowed from popular printed materials (magazines, books, advertisements and packaging), where each element carries some of its previous meaning, language, and history. The scale remains within the range of the architectural model, and occupies the peculiar place of simultaneously being thoroughly complete and an unrealized prototype of something quite monumental.

Shannon Plumb’s cinematic studies of life’s various roles and characters explore the complexities embedded in the ordinary and extraordinary. From the humble persona of a new mother to iconic figures from the silver screen, inspired by the curious spirit of slapstick comedy and the physical humor of silent film legends such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, Plumb employs a low-fi aesthetic by using Super-8 film, stationary camera shots, long takes and hand-made props and costumes. Plumb is a one-woman show starring as all characters and acting as the creative force behind her films.

Zach Rockhill is an interdisciplinary artist, whose practice engages architecture, performance and art history. His latest efforts in sculpture have compressed history and language into a formal investigation of negative space and sculptural inversions. By juxtaposing dichotomous materials in a simplistic structure, Rockhill explores the potential of elemental forces such as gravity, pressure, alchemy and energy. In meditating on the structure, the artist’s concern with the larger implications of these elements becomes apparent through a series of visual cues and constructed vocabulary.

The humble, wall-mounted constructions of Tamara Zahaykevich made almost exclusively from paper-based materials and paint have a scissors-and-glue charm. Unusual compositional pairings of shape, form and color transcend materiality and engage real space to express an acute personal history of experiences. Zahaykevich has a particular sensitivity and attunement to her materials and utilizes them as a ubiquitous medium for exploration, manipulating their physical vulnerability into a new way of objecthood.