Scott Wolniak: Landscape Record

October 25, 2015 - February 28, 2016

Scott Wolniak: Landscape Record, October 25, 2015-February 28, 2016
Tablet 1

Opening reception: Sunday, October 25, 2015 - 3-5 pm
Artist-led tour of the sculpture garden and a video program: Saturday, January 30, 2016, 2 pm
Exhibition on view through February 28, 2016

Scott Wolniak: Landscape Record includes a selection of recent work from related, ongoing projects: graphite drawings on paper, carved and painted plaster tablets, and small sculptures. Among the drawings is a large commissioned work, Tree - Lynden Sculpture Garden.

Scott Wolniak deploys rigorous, transformative processes to complicate relationships between found and made, slow and fast, appearing and disappearing, surface and interior. His latest carved plaster tablets and graphite drawings arrive at similar aesthetic states but from opposite directions: the painted tablets respond to surface texture and chance operations, excavating compositions through deconstructive sgraffito techniques, while the drawings depart from landscape imagery and are built up into complex, almost-recognizable images created through a process of repetitive mark-making, erasure, and re-drawing. For Wolniak, there is a meditative effect in repetitive action, and the accumulation of intricate, layered marks yield phenomenological fields: "Millions of small gestures add up to create spatial energy that is not necessarily about my hand."

Curator Nicholas Frank describes Scott Wolniak as an observer of the sculptural qualities of everyday urban decay: "the crumbling and breaking apart of foundations and underlayments, the grid loosening into gravel, rust and dust." This observation (and concomitant collecting) has informed an expansive practice that includes drawing, sculpture, video and painting, and is most apparent at Lynden in the sculptures and series of plaster tablets or sculptural paintings. Frank identifies Willem de Kooning's Excavation, 1950 (which hangs at the Art Institute of Chicago in Wolniak's hometown) as an antecedent, "marking a passage between figure and ground, image and abstraction, form and formlessness. It is a painting that teaches a painter how to paint by baring its process. De Kooning digs into his plastic surface and pulls out shapes that coalesce into images and figures even as they dissipate and dig back into their ground."

The process of Wolniak’s recent paintings is harder to trace by eye, given the visual complexity of their layered surfaces, but the evidence is there. Chicken wire and plywood peek through deeply dug strata of plaster. Color informs and evades the actions of painting and removal in the final surfaces, which bedazzle and evoke patterns of abstraction from many histories. Like cities, the tablets tend to bury their histories under gleaming new construction.

"Wolniak is not engaged in creating urban allegories, nor natural landscapes," continues Frank, "but his abstraction reveals a richness in paying such close attention to what might have seemed insignificant detail, or chance finds. In much of his work, including the growing set of recent drawings that render natural forms as buffeted scrapes of patterned graphite, he chances at everyday transcendence, a kind of psychedelic regard of the commonplace."

About the Artist
Scott Wolniak is a multi-disciplinary studio artist based in Chicago. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and currently teaches at the University of Chicago. Wolniak has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center; Hyde Park Art Center, Valerie Carberry Gallery, Spencer Brownstone Gallery, Peres Projects, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, 65Grand, and Judith Racht Gallery, among others. His work has been reviewed in ArtForum, Art in America and Art News, and featured in New American Paintings.

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