Erik Saxon’s rigor and play

Erik Saxon, Untitled, 1975, Acrylic, pencil, and matte medium on canvas, 60 x 60″ (at right)
Erik Saxon, “BLK.RECT.+YEL.RECT.OB._O/L_09,” 2009, oil on linen, each panel 16 x 20″

Matthew Deleget from Minus Space just sent a note that included these installation shots of Erik Saxon‘s exhibition, which is up through June 11. Originally from San Francisco but based in NYC since 1968, Saxon was a core member of the Radical Painting Group active in NYC during the 1970s and 1980s. The RPG stressed a return to the core concerns of painting, focusing primarily on the monochrome.

The group (pictured above) included (L-R) Erik Saxon, Phil Sims, Merrill Wagner, Dale Henry, Doug Sanderson, Susanna Tanger, Anders Knutsson, Marcia Hafif, Jerry Zeniuk, Frederic Matys Thursz. But missing from the photo is Joseph Marioni and Olivier Mosset. Photo via Jeffrey Collins.

In 1973 Saxon  began making abstract work based on the grid format, initially using watercolor on paper and then industrial paint on raw canvas. The same year he began exploring the idea of  monochromatic canvases � a series of acrylic drawings consisting of white and off-white squares arranged into groups of three to five panels � but tabled the idea a year later to focus his attention on paintings organized around a nine square grid structure. For the past thirty years, Saxon has worked with the monochrome and it’s relationship to its surroundings–the wall, the floor, its location within the exhibition space, and the viewer. In addition to his studio work, Saxon is a writer and has had his essays published in Artforum, Art in America,  Appearances and other respectable art mags.

Erik Saxon, Untitled, 1973, commercial Varathane paint and Rhoplex on canvas, 24 x 40″

Erik Saxon: Select Works, 1973-2011,” Minus Space, Brooklyn, NY. Through June 11, 2011. “You definitely have to stop by and see his works first-hand,” Matthew writes. “I know this is said about a lot of artists’ works, but Saxon is one of the rare artists where it actually applies.  The surfaces of his monochromes are really hard to reproduce in photos or describe with words.  They are lush, velvety, and have this indelible presence.”

And, upcoming: 
I’m also looking forward to seeing the next Minus Space exhibition, “Between This Light and That and Space: Tisch Abelow, Palma Blank, Anne Eastman, Michelle Grabner, Elana Herzog, Carrie Pollack, Tamara Zahaykevich,” which was curated by Douglas Melini. It opens on June 25.

One Comment

  1. Right on. This grouping of painters has really made a big dent in my life.

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