WHERE: Form+Content Gallery, 210 2nd St. N., Minneapolis..
WHEN: Sep. 10 – Oct. 17
Distance may seem like a concrete concept. It can be measured in miles, meters and angstroms, but not everything important can be measured. How far away are generations? When matter and molecules are mostly space, how can one calculate the physical and emotional distance between people?
This abstract concept of distance is the theme that painter Howard Oransky is tackling in “Shared Space,” the new exhibition at Form+Content Gallery in Minneapolis.
Oransky, the former director of planning at the Walker and current director of continuing studies at Minneapolis College of Art and Design , created each of the four paintings specifically for this show. Color paintings of enormous scale, the largest is 3 1/2 feet by 25 1/2 feet, span an entire wall of the Form+Content gallery.
He said the goal in the creation of each of his four works, was to “explore the physicality of paint-handling.” The paintings were created using thick, three-inch and four-inch brushes. The dense waving lines of Oransky’s “Distant Thoughts,” are broad and strong, exposing each bristle of the brush and swoop of the arm.
“Distant Thoughts,” plays with the light of the mind, circling in beige with thin scratches of crimson and swoops of navy, reminiscent of a heavy north wind from Hraesvelg, the Norse eagle god atop the Tree of Life.
For “Shared Distance,” Oransky chose to show his work with the abstract paintings and ink drawings of Clarence Morgan, a professor and chair of the art department at the University of Minnesota.
Morgan says his and Oransky’s art share similarities in practicing a specific abstract language in painting, a form that has been working in the art world since the early 20th century.
“Look at the way we practice abstraction and see if we have updated this vernacular for [the 21st century]” he said.
The two met shortly after Oransky first dipped his toes in the deep well that is the Minneapolis art community in 1994. After he accepted a position teaching critical studies at MCAD, he became a more active member of the community, serving on the Board of the Center for Art Criticism.
The name “Shared Distance” is a name that Oransky chose from two of Morgan’s paintings. “As an artist, there is a distance between the vision you see in your head and the mark you make with your hands,” Oransky said.
The point of training is to try to close this space, translate the firing of neurons directly onto the concrete world.
Morgan’s abstract black and white images combine a curvilinear permutation of classical cross-hatching with the sharp, clean lines of Hello Kitty. The paintings seem to extend hundreds of miles back through the wall.
“There is a calligraphic feel to my work and his work,” Oransky said.
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