Going Horizontal: Turning Painting On Its Side

Going Horizontal: Turning Painting On Its Side, the first exhibition featuring the work of a seven artists known as The Horizontalists will open at Studio Vendome at The Philip Johnson Urban Glass House, 330 Spring Street (between Washington and Greenwich Streets) in SoHo on April 25th through June 2nd. The exhibition is mounted by ArtEmergence.com, an art-consulting agency for emerging artists, in collaboration with RediscoveredMasters.com. An open house reception will be held on Saturday, May 11th at Studio Vendome, at which time the artists will be present to discuss their work.

Emanuel Buckvar, Imperfect Circle #6, 2013. Acrylic on Paper, 20"x23"

Emanuel Buckvar, Imperfect Circle #6, 2013. Acrylic on Paper, 20″x23″

The exhibition will then open the summer season in East Hampton at Lawrence Fine Arts at 37 Newtown Lane, in an exhibition running from June 6th to June 30th.

The Horizontalists distinguish themselves as a group that pours, paints, drips, scrapes, and abrades pigments on horizontal surfaces as they bear down from above onto floors or tables rather than on easels or walls. They recall that seminal Horizontalist, Jackson Pollock, who attacked the ground with his drip-action technique in the village of Springs out on Long Island’s East end.

Several of the members came to know each other — and realize their Horizontalist commonality — beginning in 2010 during studio residencies at Gallery 125 in Bellport. Thomas Schultz, Executive Director of Gallery 125, one of the founding fathers of the Horizontalist Movement, is also the Chief Register of the Arthur Pinajian Discovery, which recently took New York by storm. Schultz’s Gallery 125 is now the movement’s hub, where the artists congregate to explore new concepts and hang out.

The Horizontalists have emerged together in a climate of deeper questioning. And their works consistently emerge from self-reflexive process-based techniques carefully created from horizontal platforms. Daniel O’Keefe mixes pigments with Venetian plaster applied with knives and a hawk. He then methodically scrapes away layer after layer to reveal the final expressive abstraction. Larry Wolhandler works on a table, too, bearing down with an electric sander on his rectangles applied with commercial house-paint as did Pollock. It is not surprising that the Horizontalists admire Marcel Duchamp who said that the hardware store was the only art supply store an artist needed. David Adams uses a punctured paint can suspended on a tripod and, harnessing the centrifugal force of the Earth’s rotation, he creates fantastical elliptical designs. Emanuel Buckvar, from nearby Brookhaven Hamlet, “throws down” acrylic with such energetic force that velocity and air become his implement to create organic lines that meld into one another. John Perreault has produced several horizontal series including sand-and-pigment mixtures applied to paper and coffee poured on paper. He is currently pouring pigments onto stretched canvas and then constantly tilting the plane to control the pigment flow. Mark Van Wagner, who moved to Bellport and joined the movement, works pigmented sand into colorful arrangements. Etsuko Ichikawa is the newest member of the movement and, despite her geographic distance, was invited to join by Howard Shapiro, who will be showing the Horizontalists at Lawrence Fine Art in East Hampton. Also working horizontally, she shares a new medium with the group, drawing with molten glass to create ‘glass pyrographs’.

The group was unaware that coincidental with their formation the Polish art historian, Piotr Piotrowski, used the term “horizontalism” to describe a new open model approach to world art history, “an art history that is polyphonic, multi-dimensional, devoid of geographic hierarchies.” Also, the term was first used in a socio-political context to describe new forms of social organization formed in the wake of the global financial crisis as epitomized by the rise of the activists of the Occupy movement.

According to John Perreault, the group’s de facto spokesman well-known as an art critic but also an abstract and conceptualist artist, “we acknowledge the horizontalism in the sand paintings of the Native Americans, Indigenous Australian, and Tibetan groups. But, Horizontalism is also the descendant of Jackson Pollock’s drip paintings, Yves Klein’s naked body anthrometric paintings, Siraga Kazuo’s paintings done with his feet, Yoko Ono’s Painting to Be Stepped On, and Carolee Schneemann’s Up To And Including Her Limits.” Perreault captures the essence of the Horizontalist Movement, “Gravity is our friend! We are not turning painting upside down; we are turning painting on its side.”

Exhibition Information: Going Horizontal opens April 25 to June 2 at Studio Vendome, at the Philip Johnson Urban Glass House, 330 Spring Street (between Washington and Greenwich Streets) in SoHo. Gallery hours are: Noon to 6:00 P.M., Thursday through Saturday and by appointment only. The open house reception is on Saturday, May 11.

From June 6 to June 30, the exhibition moves to Lawrence Fine Art, 37 Newtown Lane, in East Hampton, NY. Gallery hours are Noon to 8:30 P.M., Monday-Friday; and 11 A.M.-8:30 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday.