press release

I would be at great pains to say ‘where’ is the painting I am looking at. For I do not look at it as a thing; I do not fix it in its place. My gaze wanders in it as in the halos of Being. It is more accurate to say that I see according to it, or with it, than I ‘see it’.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Basic Writings


A painting is an object that is like you and me part of our world. Yet, art historically speaking until recently, we did not primarily perceive it as a thing, because painting’s intrinsic quality, the disruption and displacement of the spatial continuity of the world lies precisely in the fact that real space plays a subsidiary role. It is thought to refer to a world beyond our own. The countless comparisons of painting to the window, the portal and the many paintings that literally show windows and frames seemingly corroborate the view that painting reports an objectivized exterior to the interior of our minds.

With the minimal and post-minimal experiments and their production of objects developed from the concerns of painting, real space was thematized in the context of pictorial thinking. The objects and their critical analysis tied in with the same view that sees the object of art as an exemplary representation of correspondences of form. Figure-ground relationship was transposed from the 2nd into the 3rd dimension and was now a conversation between physical objects and the gallery space, but it did not lead to a qualitative change in the discourse of the reality of painting. It was still seen externally, logically and scientifically.

More recently the influence of poststructuralist discourse emphasizes painting’s status as visual text. Visual idioms are reduced to the model of written discourse, and painting is proposed as a field that produces meaning to communicate ‘legible’ content. If we understand painting in this way we reduce it to a model based on conceptions of instrumental reason and marginalize the act of making in favor of the consumption of meaning.

Here the thinking of French phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty presents a radically different view of the objecthood of painting: Rather than seeing the world as a compilation of things in space, which also contains our bodies and which can be ‘reported’ via painting, the emphasis is put on recognizing spaciality as part of our Being. We only ‘have’ space and the things in it because it is our condition as Beings to be physical, corpo-real, and not because we ‘understand’ space abstractly-scientifically from a speculatively proposed outside. Rather than seeking the view into an idealized world or reducing painting to an instrument of logical reason, a carrier of information that can be read, an emphasis is put on the mobility of the body, and how we access the world through it.

In a historically unprecedented moment in which a never-ending stream of digital quasi immaterial images zip through our minds it is this exhibition’s concern to recall that paintings, as the ancestors of these images are things that are made of the same stuff as we are and share our reality. The artists gathered in the exhibition may or may not see themselves first and foremost as painters; Their commonality is an interest in simultaneously rupturing and conciliating the spatial continuity of the art object in relation to our world.

Curated by Marcus Herse


Josh Atlas is a sculptor based in Los Angeles. Though the forms and means of creation often change, he is working towards an aesthetic sensibility that emphasizes tenderness, vulnerability, empathy, and humility. Atlas studied art at Carnegie Mellon University, receiving his BFA in 2005. His work has been included in exhibitions at MAMO (Marseilles), Klowden Mann (Los Angeles), Regards (Chicago), and Raid Projects (Los Angeles).

Richard Bott is an artist living in Los Angeles. His production works across genre employing video, performance, media installation, painting, and drawing. His work has been notably presented by the Hammer Museum as part of Made in LA : Los Angeles Biennial, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Centre Georges Pompidou, and a solo show at China Art Objects Los Angeles. Bott is also part of the performance/installation duo, Animal Charm.

Nicole van Beek received her BFA from The Cooper Union, New York, NY in 1998 and her MFA from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2007. She received a 2012 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting and a 2011 Socrates Sculpture Park Emerging Artist Fellowship. Her work has been exhibited at Geoffrey Young Gallery, Morgan Lehman Gallery, Brian Morris Gallery, Susan Inglett Gallery and in The Last Brucennial, 2014. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Chet Glaze is an LA based artist who has exhibited nationally and internationally. Recent shows include Island Magic at Patrick Painter Inc, and Second Wave: Aesthetic of the 80′s in today’s Contemporary Art at UC Riverside’s Culver Center of the Arts. Glaze is represented by Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica, CA. He is a recent addition to the permanent collection for UC Riverside’s Sweeney Collection.

Michael Kennedy Costa (b. 1982 in Northampton, MA) lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his BFA from Boston University in 2006 and his MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in New York, Houston, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. Recent exhibitions include “Bougainvillea Begonia” at Jonathan Hopson Gallery in Houston, and “Raking the Though” at Bikini Wax and No Space in Mexico City. He has also recently given readings at Motel Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, Chin’s Push in Los Angeles, and Central Park Gallery in Los Angeles.

Daniel Mendel-Black has exhibited widely in the U.S. and abroad. Recent shows include Pretty Lips Are Red at China Art Objects Galleries in Los Angeles, and André Butzer, Marcel Hüppauff, Daniel Mendel-Black, Philipp Schwalb at Galerie Bernd Kugler in Innsbruck, Austria. Mendel-Black’s work is represented in a number of public collections. In Los Angeles his paintings are included in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the UCLA Hammer Museum.

Florian Morlat (B. Munich, Germany) lives and works in Los Angeles. He attended the Kunstakademie Dusseldorf and received an MFA from the University of California Los Angeles. He has had solo exhibitions at Cherry and Martin LA, Galerie Ben Kaufmann Berlin, Daniel Hug Gallery LA, and Rowley Kennerk Gallery Chicago, among others. Recent group exhibitions have included The Pit, 11R NYC, MCA Santa Barbara, and Renwick Gallery NYC. Modern Painters, the New York Times, and the LA Times have reviewed his work. Morlat will have a solo exhibition with the Pit in early 2017.

Nora Shields (B. Pittsburgh, PA) lives and works in Los Angeles and received a B.A in Art History/ English Literature from the University Of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand and an M.F.A from Art Center College Of Design. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions at venues such as JB Jurve, Los Angeles, Actual Size, Los Angeles and has recently has had a solo show at The Pit II titled “Int/Ext” in 2016.