Wade Guyton (b. 1972)
Wade Guyton (b. 1972)

Untitled

Details
Wade Guyton (b. 1972)
Untitled
epson ultrachrome inkjet on linen
26 x 17 in. (66 x 43.2 cm.)
Executed in 2005. This work is a unique variant from a series of five.
Provenance
Artwalk Benefit Auction, New York
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner, 2005

Lot Essay

Wade Guyton has made his mark on the contemporary art world with technology as his tool. Through an active process of coaxing his ground of choice through an Epson large format ink jet printer the artist appropriates basic, everyday imagery, and allows the printing process to take over. Guyton selects familiar imagery for his compositions - the letter X, the letter U, or images of flames - and presents them abstracted - removing them from any context they may be familiar in.

With a series of red flames licking the lower edge of the linen support, Wade Guyton's Untitled is a smoldering example of the artist's inkjet works. The composition is dominated by a pair of abstracted floating U shapes eerily hovering above flickering flames against a black ground. After closer inspection it becomes apparent that the whole composition seems to be superimposed on a worn book cover. In Untitled, Guyton successfully blurs the lines between abstraction and reality resulting in an exquisite example of the artist's most bold, graphic and haunting compositions. As the artist himself once said in an interview with David Armstrong for Interview Magazine "Art has to be sexy" (W. Guyton, quoted in D. Armstrong, 'Wade Guyton,' Interview, 8 June 2009) and Untitled is just that.

Technology is intrinsic to Guyton's artistic practice - the machine is his paintbrush, and as the canvas slides through the printing mechanism, glitches, smudges and varying printer output quality lead to wonderful unique variations in the resulting image. These irregularities render a painterly quality as black ink drips, smears and bleeds into the fields of colored imagery. The background isn't a pure, uninterrupted swath of dark ink, but rather consists of various shades of black and underlying tones. It is only by the realistic depiction of tattered paper along the edges - and the stark line where the printed image ends along the top of the canvas that we are reminded of the underlying mechanical process. As the artist himself says, "There is evidence of this struggle in the work, in its surface. I've been putting different kinds of material through my inkjet printer and there are lots of fuck ups in the printing, the inkjets get snagged, ink drips, the registration slides. I'm also just making dumb marks that don't require the complexity of the photo printer technology - and it's interesting how the printer can't handle such simple gestures" (W. Guyton, quoted in D. Fogle, W. Guyton, J. Rasmussen, K. Walker (eds.), 'A Conversation about Yves Klein, Mid-Century Design Nostalgia Branding, and Flatbed scanning,' Guyton/Walker: The Failever of Judgement, exh. cat., Midway Museum of Contemporary Art, Minneapolis, 2004, pp. 43-45).

Through his seemingly hands-off process - appropriating, scanning and printing - Guyton embraces the digital age we live in and embarks on a reassessment of the traditional concept of painting in the twenty-first century. He grasps on the value and importance of the reproduced image in contemporary society and elevates it to the status of art. In examining Guyton's oeuvre it is impossible to ignore the influence of the great masters who came before him - Andy Warhol and his obsession with contemporary imagery and the silkscreening process and Duchamp's readymades immediately come to mind. Wade Guyton's practice builds on the legacy of these great masters by incorporating technology to be an integral component of his working method resulting in a body of work distinctive, striking and entirely unique in its aesthetic.

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