Three Works by Wade Guyton
"I've become interested in when something starts as an accident and then becomes a template for other things, or reproduces itself and generates its own logic until something else intervenes to change it"
(W. Guyton, quoted in S. Rothkopf, 'Modern Pictures,' Color, Power & Style, exh. cat., Kunstverein, Hamburg, 2006).
Executed in 2005, the following three works are early examples of Wade Guyton's diverse artistic practice. Drawing from the silkscreens of Andy Warhol and the text-based paintings of Christopher Wool, Guyton's oeuvre represents the culmination of this tradition of image reproduction, transposing the methods of these twentieth century artists into the digital age.
Wade Guyton is currently the subject of a mid-career survey exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art titled Wade Guyton OS, the OS standing for operating system, the software that supports a computer's essential user functions.
Discussing the role of computers and technology in Guyton's art Ann Temkin has remarked, 'You tap a keyboard with one finger and this very large painting emerges. It's gone against everything we think of as a painting.' Temkin went on to clarify, 'there are so many historical landmarks that precede him, so many artists who took the traditional notion of painting in a new direction. Pollock flung it; Rauschenberg silkscreened it; Richter took a squeegee; Polke used chemicals. Wade is working in what by now is a pretty venerable tradition, against the conventional idea of painting' (A. Temkin, quoted in R. Smith, 'Dots, Stripes, Scans: Wade Guyton at Whitney Museum of American Art,' New York Times, 4 October 2012).
Combining three elements of Guyton's artistic vocabulary--the orb, the 'X' and his signature red and green stripes-the present Untitled painting exudes a quiet poetry even though it has been created using a computer, scanner and printer. The red and green stripes covering the lower part of the canvas recall the work of Daniel Buren and Frank Stella, as well as festive wrapping paper. These alternating stripes first caught Guyton's attention when he noticed their pattern on the inside cover of printed paperback books and immediately tore out the page to scan it. Discussing this combination the artist has explained, 'They are weird Christmas colors yet there's an optical buzz to it. It's interesting for me to take something so insignificant and minor and affectless on its own and let it permeate in many different ways' (W. Guyton, quoted in C. Vogel, 'Painting, Rebooted,' New York Times, 27 September 2012). The black orb floating in the blank expanse evokes the abstract painting of Kazimir Malevich, Josef Albers and Ad Reinhardt, although Guyton diverges from his fellow artists by utilizing a technological process to lend painterly qualities to his work. Untitled also incorporates Guyton's 'X' motif, a theme which first appeared in his drawings in which this letter was printed liberally over pages from art historical texts, which had themselves been overprinted with images of canonical masterpieces. This procedure served to highlight the significance of the reproduced image in contemporary society.