Blum & Poe is pleased to present Cushion of Air, the gallery’s second solo exhibition with Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Garber-Maikovska.
The work presented in Cushion of Air allusively depicts Garber-Maikovska in a state of performative movement wherein he channels the human condition through his gestures captured and recorded in ink and oil on fluted polypropylene boards. Furthering the artist’s explorations of communication, interpersonal connection, urban sprawl, and the body, the pieces that comprise this exhibition act as memorandums or physical documentations of the visual language that Garber-Maikovska has developed throughout his oeuvre—growing beyond, but keeping the codes of, the motions enshrined in his early time-based performances.
When speaking on the process of painting, Garber-Maikovska uses words such as “excavate” and “reveal” to describe how he achieves a finished work; he is a facilitator of the final composition, activating the process of art making from a place outside of himself. However, in tapping into the action of painting as made available through the collective unconscious, he is also accessing reflections on the cultural moment in which his body exists. Garber-Maikovska points to the contrast between nature and capitalism—experiencing liminality in the parking lot of a Panda Express that encroaches on a yet-undeveloped expanse of nature, for example—as a core tension influencing his painting and performance.
While elements of Garber-Maikovska’s practice tap into latent knowledge, he has also consciously developed specific conditions, that act as a scientific control would, within his ongoing somatic studies. Each painting begins in the same way. The backs of the artist’s translucent substrates are painted white. The fronts are then drawn upon with a black marker that the artist fills with ink. The resulting black lines set the subject for each work: formally delineating space within the piece, sometimes acting as a written language, and occasionally depicting a facial profile. Atop these prepared vessels, caulking guns filled with paint, ridged 3D-printed tops for paint tubes, and homemade blocks of oil are used to create different marks. Functionally, these “pathways” of paint appear on the polypropylene as the dictated dots and dashes of morse code would on a page.
The application of and interactions between colors matter just as much to Garber-Maikovska as the scraping away of pigment to reveal the board underneath. The artist meticulously cultivates levels of transparencies in his oils, using them to both expose and construct the interiors of his compositions. He will often scrape away a swatch of his carefully placed paint, a motion that he calls “moving through,” in order to create formal contrast as well as a moment within each painting that unveils his materials. This calling of attention to the materiality of the work also signals back to the process of its making—further emphasizing the performance-based nature of Garber-Maikovska’s practice. In the works of Cushion of Air, the medium-specific qualities of the artist’s painting practice synthesize the theatrics of his performance work, non-traditional materials, and the social concerns of a post-postmodern society.
Aaron Garber-Maikovska (b. 1978, Washington D.C.) lives and works in Los Angeles. His work is represented in the collections of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA; Pérez Art Museum, Miami, FL; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.