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


Wade Guyton (b. 1972)
signed and dated 'Wade Guyton 2008' (on the overlap)
Epson UltraChrome inkjet on linen
40 1/8 x 36in. (102 x 91.5cm.)
Executed in 2008
ArtCrush sale, Aspen Art Museum Aspen, 1 August 2008 (donated by the artist and Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York).
Private Collection.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
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Tessa Lord
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Lot Essay

‘Pollock flung it; Rauschenberg silkscreened it; Richter took a squeegee; Polke used chemicals. Wade is working in what is now a pretty venerable tradition, against the conventional idea of painting’
–Ann Temkin

‘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’
–Wade Guyton

A striking example of Wade Guyton’s iconic ‘X’ forms, Untitled explores the aesthetic boundaries of modern technology while examining the mechanics of image production in the twenty-first century. Rendered in stark black and white, it offers a large, clean single iteration of the letter, distinguished by the two horizontal lines that bracket it on either side. Guyton’s artistic process – sending simple, iconographic designs through a large inkjet printer – is central to his oeuvre. Not designed to handle linen, the machine struggles and, in the process, records the resistances and malfunctions that occur on the picture plane. The printer jams, the ink runs out, the forms stutter, splinter, smudge and fade on the surface, creating works that are concurrently mechanised and painterly. As only one half of the canvas can be passed through the printer at a time, the support is folded and each side executed separately. The paintings are thus bisected by a central seam, giving rise to further idiosyncrasies: edges do not match, colours differ, forms disappear or repeat unexpectedly. Using common contemporary technologies – a desktop computer, scanner, and printer – and a typeface called Blair ITC Medium, Guyton’s banal symbol is transformed into a monumental motif of starkly beautiful variations, in which technical breakdown simulates human error. In removing the letter ‘X’ from the context of language, placing it between an obscure linguistic or symbolic signification and abstract shape, suggested meanings begin to decay. Instead, the jet-black, razor-sharp ‘X’ slicing through the brilliant white canvas conjures an intangible sense of mechanical failure and technological degradation, part intention and part accident, which eloquently challenges the parameters of ‘high art’.

‘Pollock flung it; Rauschenberg silkscreened it; Richter took a squeegee; Polke used chemicals’, writes Ann Temkin. ‘Wade is working in what is now a pretty venerable tradition, against the conventional idea of painting’ (A. Temkin, quoted in C. Vogel, ‘Painting, Rebooted’, in The New York Times, 27 September 2012). Deeply rooted in art history, Guyton remains indebted to his Modernist and Postmodernist forebears, playing with the languages of minimal, conceptual and appropriation art. His oeuvre draws upon the legacy of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades, Jasper Johns’ study of everyday signs, Richard Prince’s printing techniques and Andy Warhol’s factorylike production of silkscreened paintings. Working in series, his arsenal of template forms – including his large-format ‘U’ shape, flames and sets of straight lines as well as the ‘X’ – proliferate across his oeuvre like eerie digital automations. ‘He has figured out a way to make work that deals with technology but doesn’t feel tricky or techie, rather it’s intuitive’, writes Scott Rothkopf. ‘It’s abstract on one hand and Pop on the other’ (S. Rothkopf, quoted in C. Vogel, ‘Painting, Rebooted’, The New York Times, 27 September 2012). Negotiating between man and machine, Untitled synthesises the conflict between traditional artistic creation and twenty-first-century aesthetics, forcing us to question long-held assumptions about image-making.

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