Galerie Perrotin, New York is pleased to present “A Revision”, a collection of new works by Chicago-based artist John Henderson, which continues to
expand and develop his engagement with abstract painting and the conditions for its contemporary practice. Making use of a variety of technologies and
techniques—molds, castings, digital printing, video, and photography—Henderson reforms, revises, and reproduces the manual painterly expression,
invoking Minimalism and Abstract Expressionism while acknowledging a distance from their unmediated practice.
The cast metal paintings in “A Revision”, each titled “Type” (2014), were not produced by traditional lost-wax casting with which Henderson had already
been working, but instead, for the first time, using a process known as electrotyping (or electroforming). Copper ions are slowly deposited through an
electrolytic bath into a conductive mold taken from an original painting. Building up one layer at time, a copper reproduction of the entire canvas is created. The result, a metallic document of the painting, is almost sculptural, emphasizing the dimensionality not only of each brush stroke, but of the canvas and frame, too. The initial painting, itself a record of gesture on canvas, is then discarded, while the final copper object presents canvas, frame, and expression as a single and comprehensive object, readily identifiable with painting.
The printed works, each titled “Proof (wall rip, verso)” (2014), suggest less immediate conformity with expectations for what might count as abstract
painting. For each work, Henderson takes a page-sized swatch of linen and adheres it directly to the wall of his studio with sizing (a preparatory agent
routinely applied to canvas). Allowing the sizing to dry so that the porous linen fuses with the paint from the studio wall, Henderson tears off the swatch,
taking a layer of the wall paint along with it. The backside of the linen and the backside of the wall paint is then documented at high resolution, enlarged
dramatically, and printed with a dye-sublimation technique that transfers dye directly into the fibers of a polyester fabric. These printed paintings suggest,
like the electrotypes, a dimensionality; but here this is primarily the result of an optical effect, not unlike trompe-l’oeil, created by casually allowing the linen swatches to bunch and ruffle before being “flattened” by the documentation process. Perhaps more germane to the work’s continuity with Henderson’s vision of painting though, is the explicit integration of the studio space itself into the production of the work. That the formative material for this series is actual wall paint from the studio and the result of a “wall-ripping” activity therein, reminds us of a crucial interest of Henderson’s: the sense in which the studio is the stage, the material infrastructure, for the performance of painting, and, as such, how it is of a piece with the material of art.