Miles McEnery Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by Jason Middlebrook for his inaugural solo show with the gallery. A public reception will be held for the artist on 14 March from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 520 West 21st Street, and the exhibition will be on view 14 March through 13 April. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated publication, featuring an essay by Mary-Kay Lombino.
Jason Middlebrook’s bold and glossy, yet surprisingly nuanced sculptures are a representation of man’s relationship with nature. Trees transformed into wooden planks with sliced cross-sections depict painted patterns comprised of geometric abstractions. Using three-dimensional constructions, Middlebrook challenges viewers to think below the surface and invites them to reflect on nature as a work of art—calling attention to, how above any human activity, the natural world continues to prevail.
The three-dimensional works leaning against the walls of Miles McEnery Gallery embrace elements of both botany and geometry. Influenced by an aversion to wastefulness and a fond admiration for the natural world, Middlebrook’s pieces respect and acknowledge nature while simultaneously celebrating form through the artist’s brushwork. To create his intriguing planks, Middlebrook first meticulously studies the shape of the wood and lets it guide his next steps. Using the smooth side of the surface, Middlebrook paints the wood while taping off the margins of the patterns that in some cases completely cover the surface, and in others operate more as a net or a screen. This process allows the imperfect qualities of the wood to show through from the background, reminding viewers of the fundamental properties of the material itself. Through this process Middlebrook creates a juxtaposition between the artificial geometric patterns of the painting and the natural patterns of the grain. Additionally, the colors of the paint are purposely bright and striking to highlight the tension between man and nature. Using these techniques, Middlebrook draws attention to the tree and its form, making a statement with a delicate hand.
The natural world has played a central role in Middlebrook’s work from the beginning. In this series of planks, Middlebrook highlights the human interaction with nature, and emphasizes that art needs to reach beyond the space in which it is shown. As Mary-Kay Lombino describes, “For Middlebrook, abstraction is more than a preoccupation with line, form, color, and composition. In Middlebrook’s work, abstraction serves as a framework for his ideas about man’s degradation of nature’s resources and about the planet’s cycle of growth, decay, and regrowth.”