Sunday, August 3, 2008

Old Material/New Thought: Ed Angell at the Gallery at R&F Handmade Paints

Basalt Ed Angell 2008
found lead, pigmented beeswax

The origin of the symbol Pb (lead) is the Latin word "plumbum," meaning "liquid silver." I love these terms. Ed Angell's current show Old Material, New Thought, now up at R&F Handmade Paints, uses lead and other materials combined with encaustic. These wall-mounted pieces explore process and materiality with easy elegance, in a post-minimal, poetic manner. Though fairly small-scale, and creating an intimate viewing experience, they are also suggestive of objects of a larger scale, bringing to mind certain Barnett Newman paintings. Angell's use of highly saturated, pigmented wax (such as quinacridone red) against the gray of the lead creates an intense contrast; the several pieces using black-pigmented wax offer a more harmonious relationship between wax and lead. In both cases, the viewer is drawn in for closer inspection of the construction of the pieces.

The artist's facility and mastery of materials is especially shown to great effect in the works with gleaming black tar that gracefully descends over the top of the lead substrate. This is also present in the artist's use of hard, impenetrable surfaces that still manage to invite contemplation. Tar, lead, wax: the artist's deft material handling and the relationship of the materials' origin through ancient earth processes gently suggest watchwords such as control, containment, compression. and contrast.

The work can be seen at R&F Handmade Paints in Kingston, NY, through September 20, 2008

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