The University Art Gallery presents Lain York: Selections from the National Gallery, on view from Oct. 25 to Dec. 15. Silhouettes derived from 18th and 19th-century caricatures populate abstract fields of shiny, colored vinyl, inviting the viewer to imagine unfolding stories. Correction tape slices across wooden panels, evoking muddled paths and archeological digs. These playful, largely abstract images explore formal concerns, but also point to the subjective, constructed nature of historical record, and to the way the past echoes in the present.
York will present his work in conversation with Assistant Professor Jeff Thompson at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, in Convocation Hall. A reception will follow.
Inspired in part by resonances between the 2012 American presidential election campaigns and his reading about the first four American presidencies, in this exhibition York explores the idea of “a visual archive of collected images,” or “an information stream.” The silhouettes, extracted from their historical contexts, surface in these compositions as if from a collective memory, and are offered to the viewer for reinterpretation.
Constructed from ephemeral, “charmingly cheesy” materials, like correction tape and stick-on vinyl, these works also play with medium, materials, and mark making. As York asked in a 2012 interview published in Nashville Arts Magazine, “What makes a painting a painting if you take away the paint?” York’s accessible, everyday materials encourage an informal, experimental approach, aligned with contemporary “provisional painting.” (Right: "An Audacious Young Citizen," vinyl, acrylic paint, correction tape, graphite on panel, 2012. Courtesy of the artist.)
Lain York has been called the “Mayor of Art Town” for his essential role in the Nashville art scene. An accomplished painter, he is also the gallery director at the Zeitgeist Gallery.
Sewanee’s University Art Gallery is free and open to the public from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.