03.15 - 04.18.2020
Paul Erschen is a nimble translator of object to image. Tracing, stenciling, imprinting, transposing and otherwise dispatching form from the dimensional world into the space of painting and print. While actively engaging his search, Paul is continually discovering the mysteries left from displaced impressions. In Fandy, his second solo show at Devening Projects, Paul reflects on the nuances and differentials found in looking closely at the contours of form. Retaining the essence of the source in each drawing, what remains may only be scant evidence. Faintly figurative — heads, shoulders, arms — there are shifts and shimmies from all the components that keep these crowds moving. The entangled density coming as a result of each screen-printed layer brings the weight and space back into an image that may have started life as a simple outline. Additional shading and shape-building adds more spatial complexity in ways that subvert the flatness of the process. Each work in this exhibition ultimately leads us to wonder if we’re experiencing an atmosphere or the invitation to a passageway.
Color is a factor in this delicate choreography. A palette reminiscent of mid-century pattern and design, his dusty hues keep the visual clatter to a low hum. Paul’s chromatic strategy embeds the work in a feeling of erasure and replenishment. Like buffed-out graffiti on the side of a building, colors sort of match; contrast might be slight; temperature shifts just slightly from warm to cool. Color in Paul Erschen’s paintings and prints always hovers between good taste and the kind of careful calibration and self-awareness that renders a harmonic tone of ease. That balance is exactly where the work needs to sit in order to achieve the tension that drives this quietly tenacious work.
In Fandy, Paul is also showing sculptural objects inspired by, extruded from and/or used in the making of the paintings. Built from hydra-stone, slip-cast stoneware and assembled from wood and then painted, these objects create their own site-specific installation. Taking the image back to the object brings the process full circle. The act of translation and transformation drives this new body of work and will inevitably result in even more discoveries.
Writing for Paul’s current exhibition, Delia Rainey says:
“A triangular plot between highway and microfilm advertisements, a drawing is a fuzzy, thick screen. What is the popular thing to do? Wires are sticking out of old toys. See reverse side for detail information. In the muddied dotted logo of afternoon news, everything that deems practical becomes a handsome buffer between you and me. The object rubs off on my palm. Packages of old vague dreams of industrial things I’ve seen. The older buildings look like cones around the city, with colors of sunset and paint peeling off the car repair shops. Here’s a diagram of the object, lifting off, glued, duplicated, ready for you. The purpose of this article is to present a method. Rubber stopper, plug up my life! The canvas is cut out and used as a coupon. This is a surplus of equipment that fills up a hollow room. I want to see the see-through blue plastic bag in a half-smile, or make each other into vessels. Loads of items in comfort leisure enter the most important phase: lo-hi, low-cost, high-grade, my taffy-colored insides, some preservation. The bottle seal changes its color. The tv antenna squiggles towards you – sneaky waves of the world. Checkerboard of slits. The domestic pole in the middle of the city is stuck with old gum underneath. In the absence of writing, the city sanctions dark smudges on the wall.”
Paul Erschen (b. 1975) lives and works in Chicago, IL. Over the years, Erschen’s studio practice has shifted between sculpture, printmaking, collecting, and most recently, painting. Receiving a BFA in 1998 from Northern Illinois University and MFA in 2000 from Ohio State University, Erschen also bounced around the Midwest in the 1990s, playing college and semi-professional baseball. Since 2003, Erschen has played drums in the Chicago band “Mayor Daley”, and served as a sculpture technician at ACRE art residency in southwestern Wisconsin (2010-present).
Notable exhibitions include: Warm Front at Hagiwara Projects in Tokyo (2018); Cloven at Devening Projects (2016), Children of the Playhouse (2016), Store Brand at Learning Machine (2015), Cardinal Cross (2014), Newport Room at The Hills Esthetic Center (2012) and West Plaza at Document (2012) in Chicago.