In theatre nomenclature, a “French scene” is one in which the beginning and end are marked by a change in the presence of characters onstage, rather than by the lights going up or down or the set being changed.
The shaped-canvas paintings in French Entrance invoke the blank canvas as an empty stage of minimalist space being entered and exited by various buoyant forms. What initially presents as slapstick improvisation is upon reflection a product of the work’s strategic construction. In literalizing the interdependence of surface and support, the works activate disparate conceptions of space - the trompe l’œil of painted depictions with the actual contours of a shaped ground - and enact a shuffling of painting’s component parts.
Also included in the exhibition is Restaurant Painting (Economics) a rectangular work in which similarly buoyant forms float across a resounding word. The uneasy relationship between the planes of activity enact a comedy of painting’s tenuous readability. Do these shapes reinforce the word, are they merely fleeting associations or completely dissonant atmospheric conditions?
For the occasion of this exhibition the artist will be executing a series of large-scale temporary wall drawings to serve as a backdrop of the works.
James English Leary, born in 1982 in Chicago (USA), lives and works in New York (USA). He received his B.F.A. from The Cooper Union School of Art in 2004. He had recent solo shows at Nathalie Karg Gallery, New York (USA); Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen (Denmark); Carl Kostyál, Londres (UK); MANA Contemporary, Jersey City (USA); Liverpool Biennal, Liverpool (UK); and Safe Gallery, Brooklyn (USA). As a founding member of The Bruce High Quality Foundation, he has exhibited at Almine Rech Gallery, Brussels (Belgium); the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn (USA); the Whitney Biennale, Whitney Museum, New York (USA); Moma PS1, New York (USA); and the Sundance Film Festival, Utah (USA). Leary was a recipient of a 2015 Tiffany Foundation Award and was a resident of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation in Captiva, Florida (USA). He is an adjunct professor at The Cooper Union in New York (USA). His next solo exhibition will be at VNH Gallery in Paris (France).