JOSEPH MONTGOMERY Velveteen

LAUREL GITLEN GALLERY | JANUARY 8 – FEBRUARY 19, 2012

Joseph Montgomery, “Image One Hundred Twenty-Eight,” 2009–2011. Canvas, clay, epoxy, fiberglass, marble, oil, paper, sponge, and wax on grout and plastic. 11 1/2 × 8 × 3 3/4”. Photo credit: Cathy Carver. Courtesy of the artist and Laurel Gitlen, New York.

If  Joseph Montgomery played accordion, Velveteen would embody his instrument’s bellowing out. Unlike previously exhibited paintings (materials compressed into buttery, concentrated compositions), Montgomery’s current works suggest a diffusion that dissects—rather than dilutes—his preoccupation with assemblages and shims. Unified by their appropriated materials’ scarred surfaces, conspicuous earth tones, and handling, by which the materials are the paintings’ pictorial structure (à la Kurt Schwitters), Montgomery’s new compilations nonetheless appear as dismantled scabs, with each dry flake of canvas, mesh, or plaster moderately exposed. Despite miry surfaces and a consistent format, this series of rectangular works with zigzagging shims demonstrates breadth, communicating through textural, tonal, and dimensional irregularities. Montgomery magnifies these formal distinctions further when he extracts and enlarges isolated shims into cedar sculptures.

“Surrogate 12” (2011), Montgomery’s visually sterile painting of a photograph of one of his paintings, soils itself by intrusively and unnecessarily questioning the identity of an image. Yet the artist’s found and fabricated marble rocks, also installed here, elucidate Velveteen. As elementary objects that mirror the corrugated shims and assemblages, they implicate his—and encourage our—contemplation of the artist’s role in conceiving an image. Montgomery boldly invites us to witness this comprehensible breakdown of a well-defined practice. If my accordion metaphor is accurate, his work will again contract into a more resolute direction and hit a sonorous note.

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Linnea Kniaz

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