Back to Blog April 25, 2016

MFA Sculpture Alumnus, Strauss Bourque-La France has a solo show up now at Rachel Uffner Gallery!

Author: matthews
Strauss Work

At first glance, post paintings might seem like an incredibly pretentious name for an exhibition—the  kind you roll your eyes at and think, “Jesus,  another show  about  painting.”  Well,  I’d say  it’s not really  what  you  think.  Like  any decent show about the medium, Strauss’ title is kind of a gag. It’s both about painting and everything painting is not—the catch being the two are always dialectically tethered, in good, postmodern fashion (Derrida in “The Parergon”: “The incomprehensibility  of [a] border”).  Note how there’s no dash between post  and  painting,  because  these  “paintings”  are  literally  posts  (so  many tongues  and  cheeks  here).  They’re  made  of  2”  x  2”  basswood  sections, stacked and latticed in varying configurations. They’re similar to the basswood pieces in his T293 show, USA Objects, and may seem rather dissimilar from his earlier Rachel Uffner outing, with its shiny, laminate surfaces and striped carpeting. But each offers a different, material way to “arrange” a painting, whatever painting means.


In post paintings, many of Strauss’ wood strips are also wrapped in pages of the New York Post—another nod to posts here—but it’s not so apparent. The paper has been scribbled over in acrylic marker, oil stick, and wood stain, and thus—to me at least—looks  rather abstract expressionist,  like something out of Mad Men—Helen Frankenthaler or Cy Twombly, if they only painted their frames, bones making a body. Is it without organs? They don’t seem to follow any   order.   The   body   is   everywhere   here,   though   it’s   only   elliptically addressed.  In the  collaged  groupings,  the  Post’s  pages  have  been  almost entirely  covered  in various  shades  of color, save for bits of clothes,  hands, torsos, and garbled headlines left exposed—we don’t know whose or which, really.   It  doesn’t   matter.   It’s  all  vaguely   sexual   and  homoerotic,   these anonymous bodies and hands, caught in the act of reaching or touching.


With  its references  to craft,  collage  and construction—model  boats,  buoys, things like that—post  paintings  is, if anything  very Americana.  Strauss grew up in rural Maine after all, surrounded by them. His father painted signs and made  furniture  for a living,  and his mother—when  she wasn’t  lighting  up— made  trompe-l'œil  paintings  of things  like  Grecian  vases.  So painting  is in Strauss’ very fiber, even if he doesn’t necessarily want it to be, in the brush- and-paint sense. But it’s more painting-as-collage,  or painting-as-sculpture,  or painting-in-the-expanded-field   (hey  Rosalind   Krauss),   or  image-as-object, object-as-symbol.  The iterations are endless and fluid. As I’m writing this, who knows what the show will actually become once he gets in the space, as the space  can  change  everything  on  a  dime.  But  what  does  it  matter,  when everything is, in a way, so interchangeable?