Persimmon Life Studies

Deep Black – Billy Gruner, Candida Alvarez, Brent Hallard

There is a punk painting by Billy Gruner and a couple of kiss paintings. One kiss is painted directly on to the wall, and is designed by this speaker, with the title taken from the onomatopoeia sound of mice nibbling, in Japanese chu chu”. Another piece, formally a readymade–a black square table napkin–is later manipulated with color and pencil. Large would be a table cover, small the napkin–this work by Candida Alvarez.

The title of the show is Deep Black. There is a lot of black, though white predominates, that being the color of the wall.
The show is spare: one napkin; one wall piece; and one original punk painting dated 2011, none of which are all black, and all to which seem to have their roots in the everyday. Everything is abstract, or is it? Or can someone explain it out a little further… the individual work, the practice, the attempt at a unifying theme, or the disarray of it?

Candida Alvarez:my sister is always putting the past behind her-Well I use the past to make my pics and I want all of it and even you and me in candlelight on the train and every “lover” I’ve ever had–every friend–nothing closed out–and dogs alive and dead and people and landscapes and feeling even if it is desperate–anguished-tragic–it’s all part of me and I want to confront it and sleep with it–the dreams–and paint it

–Joan Mitchell*

Here, deep black represents anticipation. It is like walking into a movie, once the picture has started. Memories, too, are like the everyday. They are abstract, swirling around in invisible space, until needed. My painting, “A Kiss” begins with a photo snapshot meeting a ready-made black ground. Drawing pulls it close, like a microscopic lens. In this painting, the picture transforms into an architecture of color-forms. The foundation is the photo, which gets shredded through drawing to serve as the memory pulp for painting. Disarray, is the common denominator

Deep black is sexy, no? In my painting, a sliver of black barely visible at first glance, fights for dear life to get noticed on a formal level. It is the deep black and like the kiss, reverberates throughout the painted body. In this conversation, I am nothing but that small glimpse of “black magic women.” Go towards the dark. There is always something there, waiting to be noticed.

Billy Gruner: I like the title Deep Black because it refers in many ways to a kind of mystic reading I like more and more, deep space implied for instance. But also a kind magic nature is summoned, its fun in many ways. The so-called punk works come from a long way back and issue from a certain aesthetic response, and many of these are done in black. The stripes just sit there vibrating without any pretense to design or meaning. These ongoing works are made simply, from ordinary inexpensive materials and have long been linked to a DIY understanding–that was punk’s greatest achievement. I have always admired the democracy of means and sense of lowbrow aspiration associated, and for these reasons I have always been a Post Punk style of artist. These works attempt to restate my interest in what my overall body of social oriented works may represent. Regardless these impromptu works done on site with a poverty of means have broader meanings than that, and have an almost Asian aesthetic response also: simple, repetitive, reflective, and utterly unique from each other despite the system of reproduction. The works emerge out of a longer background i.e., the tape works that I still do, and, the stereo works which have a music connection. I don’t believe I have to reinvent the wheel at present, I just like to make work that produces its own dialogue and I like how that resonates with other artists’ works, so difference for me is cardinal. In this case the relationship to colour and to its apogee, blackness is placed under discussion – this collective dialogue albeit in visual terms when paintings are used is referred to in the black paint, the gesturing of the stripes. Importantly, the act of making the punk works is symbolic, they are made just prior to exhibition or even during, so they are immediate, it is performative by nature.

* Lady Painter, A Life, by Patricia Albers.

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