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Forms of Abstraction: Eric Mack & Ashlynn Browning at Whitespace
March 21, 2014
By Tom Berlangero
Eric Mack and Ashlynn Browning come at abstraction from different angles. The exhibition “Surfaces + Structures,” on view at Whitespace gallery through March 29, teases out parallels in the two artist’s practices, while allowing them to remain decidedly distinct. In concert with each other, the two bodies of work begin to speak to the way in which forms grow, move, and multiply, either in fields of textured and fractured shapes or in cumbersome yet self-assured forms that establish themselves in fits and starts. Read More.
In Atlanta, 2 Artists Tackling Ideas of Imagined, Created, Space
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Atlanta Journal Constitution
By Felicia Feaster
After a sabbatical of four years during which he lived and worked in Munich, Germany, artist Eric Mack has returned to Atlanta, where he offers a more polished and ambitious incarnation of his kinetic, busy, mixed-media works.
Imagine the guts of a computer’s circuit board, or a science fiction film set in some floating city of the future, and you have a sense of this inventive artist’s style. Though Mack’s language is abstraction, his use of identifiable text, numbers and other artifacts of the representational world means his work straddles the purely formal and something more approachable. His titles, which always include a number and the letters “SRFC,” allude to his new show’s title, “Surfaces + Structures,” and reference the model numbers in stereo systems, tape decks, boom boxes and video games, an affectionate homage to the technology of Mack’s youth.
Mack’s work appears alongside painter Ashlynn Browning’s in “Surfaces + Structures” at Inman Park’s Whitespace Gallery, and despite very different approaches and styles, both artists work well in tandem.
Mack’s European odyssey has clearly impacted his visual lexicon. His new works draw heavily from his time abroad, incorporating Munich train maps, crossword puzzles, signage, fliers, European architectural diagrams and Turkish textile patterns. Mack’s work is a mad flurry of typography, numbers and letters, graphics and colors that give your eyeballs a workout as you take in an array of visual stimuli. Mack mixes a plethora of materials — including the above media but also glitter, paint and bits and pieces of vintage books — in works on paper and canvas that continue to stand in for the fracas and madly buzzing character of modern life.
“Surfaces + Structures” is an interesting pairing of two artists tackling ideas of imagined, created space, though Mack may remain the more accessible of the two. Browning’s work owes a debt to artists such as Philip Guston, known for his colorful, cartoonish forms. But Browning’s work is far more reserved and orderly than the surreal, fleshy forms in neo-expressionist Guston’s kit bag.
Browning’s work is a fitting accompaniment to Mack’s graphic, spatially-acrobatic collages. Browning is also drawn to abstractions that can suggest architecture and energy rendered in some re-constituted form. But whereas Mack’s works are layered and humming with activity, Browning’s oil-on-panel paintings are purposefully one-dimensional. Executed in a matte color scheme of neon pinks and limes set against plain, industrial grays, Browning’s paintings are scrubbed of too much detail. The paintings are flat renderings of the states and circumstances she depicts.
While Mack’s works are explosive, Browning’s works are contained spheres of activity hemmed in with geometric forms like the geodesic dome shape featured in “Guston as a Boy.” In that work, a colorful geometric shape in the foreground with the look of a plastic child’s toy sprouts a minimalist halo in the same geometric style above. Titles like “Perseverance,” “Electrified” or “Rocking the Boat” suggest psychological mindsets or states of being. That excitement is often conveyed with the bold pink, yellows, blues and reds of her helix- and girder-like structures set against concrete-colored backdrops.
In “Electrified” a hot pink line surrounds a dense cluster of color and line, suggesting a sort of dangerous or exciting barrier. There is a contained and coiled energy about these paintings, like power lines or water mains whose power is only revealed once they break or burst. Browning’s works are not unappealing, though their biggest fans will surely be those with a taste for both abstraction and for locating Browning’s vocabulary in its history.
Flotsam boats and painterly jetsam
Wry subtlety at Lump and juicy painting at Flanders
By Amy White
building/ burning/ growing is Ashlynn Browning’s collection of recent mixed media works on paper at Flanders Gallery. These works flaunt the beauty of their materials in compositions of endless variation and resonant consistency. In “Afternoon Languor Turns to Dusk,” the work’s layered surface reflects the history of its making and plays up the luxuriousness of paint itself. Here, as in many of the works on view, Browning integrates the grids she has explored in past paintings, but now she seems to have expanded the story, allowing organic forms to emerge in and around the initial structure.
“Rising from the Sea” features Browning’s ongoing engagement with the dynamic of green against red, keying these colors against each other. The pink and red linear strokes that float over multiple layers of the painting are reminiscent of the drawings-over-paintings of David Salle. But there is also a Matisse-like way of breaking up pictorial space, and a palette that feels like Matisse as well. Cases in point are the dots of green along the lower left quadrant and the surprising shock of blue/ violet that floats in the upper right. This painting tells the story of a rush of vertical energy through the composition, fueled by an overlay of pale staccato markings in the center.
Space prohibits me from describing each of Browning’s 22 works on view—a small grouping of which includes the artist’s gutsy torn pieces, works that appear to be fragments of larger works, breathless abbreviations of Browning’s painterly prowess. Perhaps a few nonbelievers might be enticed by the considerable pleasure to be had in these well-constructed offerings.