At artMoving, Aron Namenwirth exhibits abstract paintings that critique contemporary politics. He titles his show Halliburton 2 and adds parenthetical qualifiers, such as "Orange Alert" and "Abu Ghraib," to each of the untitled paintings on the show’s price list. This is confining, privileging one reading of his work when others might seem to emerge from the work itself. But his painting is strong and deals directly and effectively with the current political climate.
Perhaps the most assertive painting in the show is “untitled #12 (Orange Alert).” The colors of a centered, rectangular strip shift horizontally from grays to pinks to grays again. Radiating outward, a second gradient encloses the first. It moves from umber at the center toward cadmium orange at the painting’s periphery. The whole is effective optically, flat up close and concave from a distance. Its colors are insistent, strident as one imagines the sound of an Orange Alert would be. Our Orange Alerts, announced on television, were never of the air raid variety. This painting takes an idea about its subject as an invasive offense and, embodying it in color, evokes its auditory component.
In “untitled #10 (Halliburton),” the artist puts the rectilinear grid, on which “#12” also relies, to what I suspect to be its primary use in his paintings: obscuring a representational image. In “#10,” Halliburton’s letters creep in capitals through the interlocking strips of color that make up the painting’s surface. As in all the paintings on display, the strips are about an inch wide. Namenwirth occasionally picks out intersections in aberrant colors, challenging his own methods and confounding the viewer’s attempt to dissect his technique.
He covers his tracks thoroughly in “untitled #6 (Mid-life Crisis).” In this vertical work, Namenwirth imposes a secondary geometry onto the primary grid. Composed of earth tones, sky blues, and cadmiums, these uppermost forms float, at times disrupting the painting’s underlying structure. Looking at this painting is a complex and satisfying experience that has no apparent relationship to a midlife crisis. In the greater context of his show, I might suspect the artist of a jab at the Bush administration, a suggestion that a male mid-life crisis is the motivation for its doings.
Namenwirth’s efficacy in addressing weighty politics is in large part due to the suggestiveness of his painting technique. The gradual obscuring of an image beneath geometry might represent the muddying of evidence on the part of the powers that be. The aberrations in the geometry—the image threatening to press thorough the grids—could in turn represent reality, the truth behind a politician’s lie.
ContributorBen La Rocco