The New York artist Wade Guyton uses an unusual means to “paint” his canvases: a commercially available inkjet printer. Considering the high ceiling halls at Museum Ludwig, he created site-specific large-scale works. Eight high-format canvases (each 7.75 mx 1.75 m) are hanging close together on the front wall of the room.
They are printed with black monochrome blocks. His thick black color consists of a mixture of all seven colors of the ink-jet printer. It is thus all colors summed up as a non-color. The printer can only cover half the width size of 1.75 meters so the artist folds along the canvas. As soon as one half is finished, he turns the canvas and prints the other half. The black monochrome surfaces of strips and blocks the artist often employed in recent times are generated on the computer. There are very simple geometric shapes that are printed over and over again on the white canvas.
Guyton always follows a strict process. For him it is important that the dimensions of the screen to adapt to each technical and spatial conditions. The width as said earlier, is exactly twice the capacity of his chosen printer format while the length of 7.60 meters is the standard screen roll. While the width in all of his previous works that are produced in his printer are the same, the length of his works here in the Museum is based on the architecture of the exhibition space: the high end wall of the large skylight hall at Museum Ludwig.
Not only the unusual format refers to the space. This is also the manifested by the central motif, the monochrome blocks that fit into it. They form an echo in their opposition to the long and narrow staircase. The Black and White shapes mimic the stages. If we recall the stairs inside the hall, their own movement also seems to complement strips in motion. The staircase is the show staircase, which on Guyton’s wall takes on an abstract character, possibly meant to imitate the movement of his visitors.
His walk, his performance is something that gets so theatrical one may see the black squares as a filmstrip or something refering to the cinematic. They possibly point to great theater performances on the stairs – Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard – comes to mind. The movements, which are suggested on the canvas, are at the same time, the artists and the surface of canvas that have occurred during manufacture.
Part of the exhibition at the Museum Ludwig is the artist’s book “Zeichnungen für Lange Bilder” (published by Buchhandlung Walther König, 2010). It contains a collection of original pages that have been taken from catalogs and overprinted with simple geometric shapes. Guyton photographed them as a stack on his blue kitchen floor. For each page scanned a new drawing is taken from the stack. The movement of the reader is considered by the artist during the production of the paintings.
The large formats shown by Guyton in recent years has brought him back to his artistic beginnings. Up to 2004 he mainly created sculptures. His massive and elegant “U Shaped” sculptures are sometimes standing or sometimes lying as he prefers them. His sculptures were once called “drawings in space” before he went into “Print Painting”.
It is probably only apt to refer to his now extremely long printed canvas as “printed sculptures”. They redefine the space in which they hang, but they also define their medium. His process of painting or printing enters a somewhat sculptural dimension by their behavior. By their scale they also determine the movement of the viewer in the room.
The more recent works developed by Guyton through the computer refer to the motif par excellence of modernity: monochromes. The hark back to the classic monochromes of Alexander Rodchenko or Robert Ryman which sought to reduce painting to its essentials: the color, the canvas, the frame. From Guyton’s monochrome blocks we can, even if they are placed in larger complexes, insinuate a similar goal on how Rodchenko and Ryman achieved their self-reflexive paintings.
His thick black paintings in Cologne is about a mixture of all seven colors of ink-jet printer. It is thus all colors summed up as a non-color.
Wade Guyton was born in 1972 in Hammond, Indiana. From 1996 to 1998 he studied at Hunter College in New York. Since then, he has dealt mainly with the minimalism, abstract painting and appropriation art. Guyton’s images developed from the characters, letters, grids, abstract patterns and amorphous structures, which he printed on the side of art and architecture books. He had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the US and Europe including a major exhibition in 2005 at the Hamburg Kunstverein. In 2006 he participated in the Whitney Biennial and in the 2008 Torino Triennale.
Wade Guyton’s exhibition is on view from 23rd of May 2010 to 22nd of August 2010 at
Museum Ludwig Cologne, Bischofsgartenstr. 1, 50667 Cologne, Germany
The artist’s book is published by Walther König. The Curator of the exhibition is Dr. Julia Friedrich.
*Translated from the original text issued in German by Museum Ludwig.