Mike Diamond (Mike D of the Beastie Boys) wanted a Brooklyn-inspired toile wallpaper for the walls of his Cobble Hill brownstone. In 2012, he worked with designers Vincent J. Ficarra and Adela Qersaqi at Revolver New York, and John Sherman of local manufacturer Flavor Paper to produce a design that pays tribute to Brooklyn in a manner that looks, from a distance, like a traditional eighteenth centre French toile — a printed textile with small scenes that make up an overall pattern.
Joshua Liner Gallery is currently hosting its second major solo exhibition of work from Los Angeles based artist Wayne White, entitled I’m Having a Dialogue With The Universe, And You’re Just Sitting There. This exhibition is White’s most ambitious project to date with the Gallery, featuring all aspects of the artist’s multidisciplinary practice: including kinetic sculptures, murals, work on paper, a wallpaper installation, and White’s signature Word Paintings on vintage offset lithographs.
From puppeteer, to painter, illustrator, sculptor, wordsmith —and even typographic artist —the enormous breadth of White’s creative output is part of a career spanning over 35 years. For this body of work, the artist deconstructs themes surrounding vanity, hubris, and the inflated egos of artists, as he explains, “I’m drawn to the humor of vanity. The title of the show is an artist’s private, nasty thoughts about how he or she is superior to the public and is so worthy of praise and attention. It’s my way of popping bubbles and kicking pedestals.”
Humor in particular is among the strongest touchstones of White’s work, explored throughout the entirety of his practice, and most discernibly in his word painting series — painted, often with profane epithets, on vintage offset lithographs of kitschy landscapes. Cleverly wry phrases such as “THOSE GUYS ARE PUSSIES,” and “HAD IT GOIN ON BUT LOST IT THEN GOT IT BACK THEN FUCKED UP AND LOST IT,” interrupt the scenery, often integrated within the formal compositions of the offset prints.
White pays special attention to the structure of each letterform in the word paintings, creating dynamic optical interactions. This arrangement of forms requires careful reading, as letters transform from clearly legible words into objects with vanishing points and buoyancy. In contrast to recent word paintings from White, these new works revisit an earlier style from the artist that evokes strong influences of Surrealism. Meanwhile, F.U. MONEY elicits Dadaist influences with its mixing of letterforms and unorthodox punctuation, superimposed on a Parisian scene at dusk. Adding to the Surrealist undertones, and echoing the walls of Peggy Guggenheim’s art collection, the installation of the works will extend from the gallery walls, held upright by oversized plywood hands.
Other works engage with the artist’s nostalgia for his youth, and Southern heritage. In Covered Wagon, White paints a pre-industrial American carriage, spiraling into the center of a found lithograph, while a series of works on paper explore various commercial signage from mid-century America.
White’s most recent collaborative work — a wallpaper installation with Brooklyn-based Flavor Paper — is also installed in the Gallery. Entitled Waynetopia, the wallpaper design is adapted from a mural in the artist’s dining room at his home in Los Angeles. Inspired by 19th century French scenic wallpaper, the design features a fantastical landscape with tropical foliage, mountains, majestic skies, and White’s trademark painted words.
Here’s a video of one of White’s Kitchen Word Sculptures.
Wayne White’s I’m Having a Dialogue With The Universe, And You’re Just Sitting There will be on Exhibit Through October 8th, 2016 at Joshua Liner Gallery, Located at West 28th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.