November 12 – December 5, 2017
Galerie l’inlassable is pleased to present Monument Around, an exhibition of new paintings by Zach Bruder.
These works focus on the archetype of the custodian, a solitary figure tasked with protecting its ward. Emerging out of Bruder’s ever-growing constellation of motifs, these unlikely keepers and their supposed dependents are rendered in Bruder’s distinct style of bold, overpainted lines and modulated fields of vibrant color. In each painting of the Hand and Glass series, an unseen figure tilts a vessel towards a lone plant. Derived from Bruder’s earlier When God Created Man She was Only Joking (2015), these works present a moment of creation. Perhaps by the hand of a deity, a barren surface receives life force in its purest form – a mythic substance powerful enough to defy the asphyxiation of logic, fertile enough to sustain life in the most inhospitable of places.
The plant that springs forth is unidentifiable, though it exists somewhere between a cactus and a fern, and thrives somewhere between the light and the darkness of this interstitial world. In the subtly variegated compositions and palettes, the works in the series read as variations of a divine experiment, playing out without intervention. A second series of Forest City paintings depicts an overcast sky filled with clouds or smoke. This menacing firmament recalls the artist’s earlier Flat Earth works, in which vaporous forms spring forth from scenic valleys. The mountainous ground of those images pointed ambivalently towards either America’s start as a “Shining City upon a Hill” or towards an ancient flat earth being pulled out from under the sky. In these new paintings, however, the focus falls on the trees themselves: how their roughly delineated forms act as barrier and as support, forcibly creating space between what lies above and what lies below. In a related tondo, Break in the Stretch, a woodsman rests on a large stone, evoking the blue and white palette of Colonial porcelain. Though generally depicted as a naturalist in harmony with the forest, the occupation is tied to speculation: as the land is cleared, it is parceled and sold. The exhibition also includes two paintings of Owls, creatures whose symbolism varies from that of a repository of wisdom to messenger of death. As forest hunters, they imply surveillance and evoke paranoia. By re-casting iconic types with a knowing and playful cynicism, Bruder questions how images are chosen to represent truth or ideology. Bruder’s works skeptically suggest that history is not straightforward, but a process in which layers of discovery, alienation, abstraction, and appropriation are repeatedly folded into one other. Trading heavily in non-sequitur, metaphor, and allusion, Bruder’s custodians come to form a rogues gallery of inflected fictions.