For Fourteen30's second show since opening in small A projects' former space, director Jeanine Jablonski has paired two young artists—Brooklyn's Nick van Woert and Vancouver, BC's Nicholas Pittman—who share a playfully irreverent attitude toward convention.
In the case of Pittman, who paints tightly controlled, gouache-on-linen works, he's rebelling against the genre trappings of psychedelic art, attempting to purify it of representation as well as references to drug culture. The result is a series of tautly executed, pattern-based works, in which repeated geometric forms—circles, triangles, squares—crowd the foreground of pictorial space, while undulating tones gently shift beneath. Though these dense works are packed with references to Minimalism and Op Art, they hardly rely on art historical references for their effect. Instead, the strain between their perceived flatness and the sense of depth that opens up when a viewer lingers over them injects a jarring sense of dynamism. With no center for a viewer to affix his or her gaze, wherever one looks, the periphery of the works seem to be fluttering or breathing. It complicates painting's status as a static, passive object: Pittman's work does not move or change, per se, but it seems to behave reactively, rearranging itself when it suspects one isn't looking.
Van Woert, on the other hand, addresses classical sculpture through his totemic works, which feature busts of Franz Schubert or David and, in the case of "New Order," Ionic proportions. However, where one might expect classical materials, van Woert favors a kind of Home Depot aesthetic, employing insulation foam, plexiglass, and sculpted heaps of polyurethane adhesive. This subversion continues as van Woert riffs on the use of the pedestal in classical sculpture, in which an ostensible vehicle for an unmitigated presentation of the work becomes an agent of obfuscation. In both "New Order" and "Fool's Gold," classical busts are removed from atop the pedestal, deformed, and incorporated into the columns themselves. In the stunning "Blind Spot," a coal-black bust of David is bisected at eye level, where a precarious wooden pedestal is inserted. No longer relegated to a supporting role, the figure of the pedestal has been shoehorned into the work of art itself. Like Pittman's images, van Woert reminds that the periphery is worth watching, as well.