Stephen Friedman Gallery's SP Arte 2014 presentation was a three-person exhibition of new work by gallery artists Stephan Balkenhol, Tom Friedman and Wayne Gonzales which explored and transformed the familiar and the everyday.
Stephan Balkenhol (b. 1957 in Fritzlar, Germany) is presenting a selection of figurative single column and two-part works that continue his devotion to exploring the role of the figure in contemporary art. These figures, carved from single blocks of wood, proudly display the rough, chiselled and hand-painted surface upon which the artist has worked yet the proportions are precisely coordinated. Each man or woman wears the same unpretentious, indifferent expression which acts as vessel for the viewer's emotional projection, described by the artist as being a 'wooden mirror'. These works are grouped together yet somehow separate; one sculpture gazes on another while that objects affection lies elsewhere. Also presented is a new wall-mounted work on board where Balkenhol has printed his own digitally altered photographs of an epic landscape directly onto the wooden surface. He has disturbed the original image by carving into the printed background, enhancing the atmospheric quality created by the view of this vast, unpopulated landscape. These bold areas incision contrast with the muted tone and palette of the image behind. The figures further subvert this imagery by the nature of their poses, costume and physical standing and their separation from this barren scenery.
Tom Friedman (b. 1965, Saint Louis, USA) is renowned for elevating material beyond its original form with mesmerising skill. For the fair, he has created a series of paper works which, painstakingly created, reveal deeper intricacies from every viewpoint as the delicate nature of the material is revealed. Two floor-based sculptures, appearing as floating masses of white material, are paper structures that have been identically manipulated precisely mirror each other. Here, what we think we see and what is literally before us are two very different entities. Also presented is a new series of coloured, wall-mounted paper constructions. The individual sheets have been laboriously folded beyond physical possibility to create an origami dragon. Unfurled back to their original form but with the lines of its journey visible, the work now exists somewhere between the two states. In each artwork, Friedman deconstructs both an idea and a material to its absolute core, re-building it into a sculptural or artistic form with both comic and conceptual genius. It is this dual concern between the microcosm and the macrocosm that delights and intrigues in equal measure.
Wayne Gonzales (b. 1957, New Orleans, USA) has created a number of new paintings that take as their central focus images of parked cars in a parking lot. The artist was drawn to the crowded California parking lots as areas that are often overlooked, and yet hold so much activity in their condensed reflections of light. Here, the glistening windscreens and bright lacquer of the cars are reduced to varying tones of a similar colour palette. In each painting, the rows and rows of cars are tightly packed creating an almost abstract layering of images. Painted from layers of colour applied in varying shades, the work continues and develops the artist's unique language and exploration of light and shadow, traversing the spectrum from the figurative to the abstract. Allowing us to pause, consider, and reflect, they are an intimate reminder of the diversity of our everyday lives.