Sam Moyer uses simple tools—textiles, ink, and, previously, bleach—to make work that is anything but simple. And even within the self-imposed constraints of a rectangular picture plane and a monochromatic palette, she’s continuing to push the vocabulary of painting in new directions. The aesthetics of photography have always been an important reference point for Moyer, as well as the readymade divisions of landscape: sky, horizon line, land or sea. But her latest paintings from 2012 have me thinking of flags, and elephant hides; of mangled punk Xeroxes, sun-baked highways, the elegantly crinkled surfaces of disposable plastic bags, crumpled bedsheets, the face of the moon. (These are all compliments.) Moyer stitched together many of these new works from various pieces; dark blocks of gnarled, nuanced black are paired with segments in which the bleach has all but faded away any remaining pigment. In Moses Moment we get a swooning wash of grey, Moyer at her most photographically inclined (it looks like we could step inside this one, follow its trail into the distance.) Elsewhere the effect is less romantic, more graphic, the paintings chopped into several distinct chunks, like an abstract digital file that’s been garbled to delicious effect. In this way she gives us the rigidity of the grid while letting the composition run wild within those parameters, a sort of ghostly, monochromatic cousin to Richard Diebenkorn’s “Ocean Park” series. And Moyer’s process—its reliance on an element of chance, and the use and occasional misuse of basic materials—also puts her in line with a new guard committed to moving forward the possibilities of abstraction. It’s a thrilling vision: a topography of folds, creases, slashes, and scratches, so much texture and nuance in black and white.
The specific beauty of the dandy consists particularly in that cold exterior resulting from the unshakable determination to remain unmoved; one is reminded of a latent fire, whose existence is merely suspected, and which, if it wanted to, but it does not, could burst forth in all its brightness. The Painter of Modern Life, Charles Baudelaire
A long-forgotten neon lamp that was switched on during the Great Depression and left burning for about 77 years has been discovered hidden behind a dusty partition at Clifton’s Cafeteria. Los Angeles Times, May 26th, 2012
My heart goes round and round/ My love comes a tumblin’ down/ You leave me ahhhh/ Breathless, ah!/ I shake all over and you know why/ I’m sure it’s love honey that’s no lie/ Cause when you call my name/ You know I burn like a wooden flame/ You leave me ahhhhhh/ Breathless! Breathless, composed by Otis Blackwell, first recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis