In what are his most well-known type of paintings—the sanded, scraped and distressed works that are often heavily perforated stretched canvasses—Brock originated his approach to breaking down and rebuilding older artworks.
Taking paintings from almost a decade ago that were bright and geometric, Brock scrapes the works down and covers them with layers upon layers of pastel pigments, then attacks the results by hand in a laborious process of both painting and scraping with a knife and sanding with a belt sander.
The former painting’s composition dictates where the razor catches and the sander obliterates, as the past is transformed into an ethereal and strongly objective work that hovers between materials and art, past and present.
Kadar Brock’s debut solo exhibition, on view at the Hole, features abstract paintings that are the result of buffing surfaces, scraping, collecting, and repurposing stray materials. They’re beautifully damaged objects, full of vibrant detail. In addition to his signature large-scale pieces—created by sanding down surfaces marked with flashe, oil, acrylic, house paint, and spray paint—this suite of new works includes ones constructed from studio leftovers and debris, arranged on canvas like so much colorful confetti.
“They’re pretty randomized,” Brock told me. “The material is from all the paint chips I’ve culled while deconstructing the sanded works—those gestures and brushstrokes are entirely de- and re-contexualized.” This sort of artful recycling is also apparent in a medium-sized work, equal parts sculpture and painting, entitled residuumii. “As I work on the larger pieces I collect the dust that’s sanded off of them, and then cast it into a slab of Hydrocal,” he explains.
“It’s another reconstituted painting: Same basic materials, different configuration. I like these ritual processes that turn around my relationship to mark-making—and how info is inherently, like an aura, maintained in paintings after that turnaround.” Brock’s exhibition is on view in conjunction with one by Kaspar Sonne, featuring paintings that look like they’ve been burned and dynamited off their stretcher bars.
Does he, I wondered, feel like he’s part of some new generation of painters, pushing the medium forward by destroying it? “I see it as we’re setting up rituals and actions that make painting the result of something almost performative,” he surmises, “but not in some genius-arena-autonomous way; more in a ‘labor labor every day’ kind of way.”
Text from The Hole Solo Show in New York !
The second body of work exhibited here is another form of ritualistic painting, where all the scrapings of paint and the ensuing colorful chips end up. Swirled together like a tornado of shredded pigments, these paintings are dense and insistently autonomous paint, a thicket providing no point of entry.
The final body of work exhibited here is the most obliterated, the pulverized dust from his artistic process, cast delicately into plaster and retaining the powdered and puckered surface, the final point of the destruction of painting before nothingness, the atoms of his artistic universe.
While the technique is an important part of both the appearance and concept behind his work, these pieces on their own exist in a phenomenological world of ideas and concepts divorced from process. The composition of the pieces is dictated by former gestures made with a paintbrush, and ultimately the final work maintains some of that gestural quality: however, due to the transformation of the original piece, these gestures become frozen, petrified, grown over. The works hint at the artist hand, even though the artist’s hand is here wielding a sander and razor. The hand as we see it manifest in the final result is a ritualistic, labor intensive hand, a repetitive, blistered and very dirty hand.
While expressionistic brushstrokes have always deified the romantic artistic genius in this metonymically phallocentric way, these works bury that gesture under labor and randomness, taking away that precious autonomy and also the burden of decision making. The process of making the work is also the process of deconstructing the self, and if the sublime is an idea of a lone genius confronting some consciousness-obliterating hugeness (nature, technology, etc.), then how do these paintings that cede that first-person centrism appear just so sublime?
b. 1980 New York, NY
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
2002 BFA Cooper Union School of Art; New York, New York