If its attempts to transcend its own condition as colour spread on a plane occupy a large part in its history, painting is nevertheless still a physical area from which to address the surrounding world. While the majority of Westerners henceforth spend most of their time with their eyes glued to a luminous rectangle —hi there, who you are reading this text humbly printed on paper—, painting, in the words of Daniel Lefcourt, allows slow-looking, and have the ability to speak of perception, of touch. It would be, more than ever, topical.
In a way, a work of art is always a representation of something else, be it an object, image or idea. In Daniel Lefcourt’s premier exhibition with Mitchell-Innes & Nash, this seemingly intuitive theory becomes complicated by the artist’s employment of simulation techniques associated with theatrical and architectural models. A simulation, by definition, does not attempt to exist independently from or replace its source. Lefcourt’s fascinating use of modeling is not about the efficiency of representation, but is itself a simulation and tangible re-presentation of the very process of modeling, and the roles of the materials and rituals that are necessary to build a convincing visual approximation.
For his début show in 2004 Daniel Lefcourt exhibited a series of paintings of rocks: tar-black solitary boulders that were rendered on wheat-coloured canvas. Although the subject matter seems insipid, the paintings were anything but: visually lush, they reflected wittily on the nature of contemporary painting, the intersection of abstraction and representation, and the objectification and commodification of art.
A lot can happen in the gap between an artist's initial inspiration and a project's eventual outcome, and the objects in Daniel Lefcourt's recent show dwell precisely, if opaquely, in that space. In his recent exhibition at Taxter & Spengemann, Lefcourt presented an array of Minimal-ish constructions, most of them assemblages of narrow strips of wood mounted on the wall.
The works in Daniel Lefcourt's second solo show at this gallery somehow survive looking as if they could have been made in 1967. At first they seem to hail from a time when Frank Stella's shaped paintings, with their repeating bands of metallic color, had painters doing everything possible to avoid conventional paint on canvas and square corners.