Art of the Week

Garth Weiser (b.1979)
Twenty Thousand Leagues, 2004
Oil on canvas, 157 x 188
Gift of John Raimondi

Garth Weiser is an artist based in New York. Weiser was born in Montana. He earned his MFA from Columbia University of the Arts, New York, NY, 2005; his BFA from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York, NY, 2003.

The work of Garth Weiser is concerned with languages of abstraction and the physicality of the painted surface.  Marked by a sense of materiality and texture, as well as a striking synthesis of addition and subtraction, Weiser’s densely textured oeuvre underlines the artist’s fascination with the evolution of painting. His work is created by overlaying abstraction upon abstraction, each unique layer representing a distinct history in terms of content, form and materiality, resulting in a gestural surface burnished with shimmering strata of thick pigment. Highly textured, his paintings resemble fossilized slabs, their facture near tangible to the viewer. The vascular surfaces of the works trigger chromatic vibrations and optical illusions. Multiple perspectives and after-images emerge and recede with tributaries feeding and looping back into one another, giving rise to a new and complex visual lexicon, rooted in the canon of abstract painting.

A departure from his early work, which demonstrated a strong interest in graphic and geometric design, drawing on elements of the Op Art movement, Weiser’s recent work reveals a new engagement with composition, agency and intention, confronting abstract expressionistic tropes with the use of different effects, procedures and materials. The layering of pigment in the paintings complicates the distinction between areas of colour and line, generating a sense of uncertainty to the identity of each. Surfaces absorb light and reflect it unevenly, keeping the viewer mobile via optical instability and a lack of figure-ground distinctions. While abstract, the works are still illusionistic, and shadows, gradations of colour, a sense of movement, variations between light and darkness, rippling waves, wood grain, and reverberating contours are evoked in the undulating palette and seismic surfaces of the artist’s multi-faceted practice.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers) is a classic science fiction novel by French writer Jules Verne published in 1870. It tells the story of Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus as seen from the perspective of Professor Pierre Aronnax. The original edition had no illustrations; the first illustrated edition was published by Hetzel with illustrations by Alphonse de Neuville and Édouard Riou.


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