On ViewKayne Griffin Corcoran
Monique Mouton: Scene
July 13 – August 31, 2019
The simple act of looking is subtly disrupted in this exhibition by displacing small but critically important expectations. Adjustments of shape, color and composition are extended to include the framing and placement of works, the gradual awareness of which acts to slow down reception—the opposite engagement required for the speed conscious, digital information that otherwise surrounds and preoccupies us. The first notable perceptions are the numerous correspondences. This is evident between differently colored frames and the works on paper that they contain. The unevenly cut sheets of paper produce variable spaces between their edge and the rectangle of the frame. The chromatic relationship between the color of the frame and the backing board behind the framed paper is a further correspondence. The color of the painting’s composition is an integral part of these interchanges. What is achieved with this method of presentation is to visually include frames as much more than a neutral device to contain the rectangular work within.
Added to these complexities that operate at what could be regarded as usually the margins—the edge of a sheet of paper, the space between it and the inside face of the frame and the color of that frame—are paintings on cut wood that rest on the floor, against the wall, under or apart from, the framed works. Long, narrow, and curved, jig-saw cut profiles in single colors, the paintings on wood, whilst stand-alone works, rhyme with the shapes formed by the unevenly cut edges of the paintings on paper, loosely positive forms to those negative voids. The paintings on wood extend the exhibitions placement of discrete objects, framed paintings, into a more active relation to the gallery’s architecture, gently luring and coaxing the viewer to consider the space as it is physically moved through, rather than supporting ideal positions to stop and contemplate individual works one at a time.
This is the New York artist’s first exhibition at the gallery. Appropriately—as this town is known for producing cinematic, fictive narration—entitled Scene. This particular group of works presenting a constellation of relations as if staged for the duration of this particular presentation. Monique Mouton cuts her sheets from a roll of paper, leaving a jagged or curving edge that will become compositionally significant as a particular work is developed. Take for example, Moon (2019). The cut and torn irregular vertical edges of the paper are made even more visible as the white, yellow, and dark grey composition of watercolor, ink, soft pastel, and pencil is contrasted with the black color of the frames backing board in a pale wood frame. The yellow crescent perhaps accounts for the title of the work, the three areas of thinly brushed, wave like forms, associative with the movement and surface of water or cloud. The intuitive, and non programmatic, sensitivity of applied mark and arrangement of color is typical of all the paintings on paper here.
An artist who comes to mind looking at this exhibition is Vivian Suter, not only because of her range of painterly involvement, but also because of her installations that engage with a gallery’s space. Sun (2019) is a watercolor of concentric and loosely applied, yellow brush strokes centered and filling the sheet top to bottom, apart from violet brush strokes on either side with two small, barely noticeable, rainbow motifs. The bottom edge of the sheet is torn, rising from left to right, leaving a thin wedge shape delineated by the line of shadow that this slightly curving lower edge of the paper casts against the different white of the frame’s backing board. Beneath Sun, on the floor and leaning on the wall, is a painting on wood, Untitled (Greenish) (2019), its very dark green profile, a wedge shape, is positioned to run in the opposite direction to the wedge shape formed at the bottom of Sun. This stand-alone work thus also contributes to the exchange between viewer, individual works, and the exhibition as a whole—an exchange that is both formally playful and conceptually succinct, enlivening the discourse and experience of painting with both a lightness of touch and acuity of thought.