Process over product: something happened here opens at Champion
New York artists Yadir Quintana and Matthew Schenning are hiding something. Both artists have taken steps to remove themselves as the subjects of their artwork. And yet how they maintain their anonymity is downright beautiful.
Both masters of multimedia imagery, the two visiting artists show off their latest works at Champion in a double exhibition curated by Arthouse's Jennie Lamensdorf called something happened here. The name implies the overall effect of Quintana and Schenning's hybrid approaches to capturing the sometimes unintentional act of mark-making. Their final products beautifully—and surprisingly—depict the artists' process itself, which Lamensdorf contends is "often more important than the result."
Yadir Quintana works primarily with delicate silver leaf gilding that he places underfoot while he or another artist works on another piece of art. After a pre-determined amount of time, sometimes months, Quintana carefully removes the impressionable flooring and recontextualizes the former flooring into hung wall art. The effect is a reimagined "portrait" of the artist (or more, specifically, their process) that is unique to that individual.
"I'm interested primarily in mark-making without planning or knowing what will result," says Quintana. "This process marks an artist's passing with such a nuanced detail that it reveals something about their personality. Some artists are very clean, others are very fast and messy."
This process marks an artist's passing with such a nuanced detail that it reveals something about their personality.
Matthew Schenning is a lifelong skateboarder who photographs the "wall ride lines" made by skateboarders and bikeriders on formerly pristine public walls. Some of his larger prints display these markings directly to show the haphazardly beautiful chaos. Some of his other smaller works depict these board-marked walls that he has painted over on the print itself. The effect highlights the stark contrast between the painted-over walls and the sharp clarity of the houses and buildings behind them.
While their materials are distinct, the approaches of the two artists are similar. Lamensdorf establishes a keen yet subtle dialogue between the two artists' works by highlighting each of these common themes that run throughout the two artists' work.
First, both Quintana and Schenning maintain a safe distance from their subject by framing others' actions above their own. Quintana records the movement of other artists, claiming a sort of "voyeuristic" excitement from uncovering his subjects' personalities through their process. Schenning meanwhile captures the unintentional marks made by skateboarders—artists in their own right, for certain—and admits he sees himself more as the safe, clear houses hidden in the pictures behind the walls. "There's definitely a statement about boundaries in both of our works," says Schenning.
Unintentionally, both Quintana and Schenning focus on the movement of their subjects' feet, shifting what is underfoot into what is viewed on a wall. Reframig Quintana's gilded panels and Schenning's walls as artwork retrains us to begin reconsidering the beauty of capturing movement in new ways, seeing art where we normally cannot or choose not to see it.
Both artists are similarly interested in the continual alteration of their pieces over time. Quintana's pieces continue to shift in color and clarity as the silver leaf oxidizes. He predicts they may at some point in the future turn entirely black. ("It's like a chemistry experiment in here!" jokes Lamensdorf.) Schenning's photos will likewise fade at different rates than the paint he has added to the images' walls. Both artists are excited to see how their works transform, but understand the trepidation that some art buyers might have about metamorphosing art. "You have to be okay with the changing nature of my art," warns Quintana.
This exciting element of chance is the final shared component in the dialogue happening at Champion until November 12th. "I tried to purposely create some of these wall ride lines," admits Schenning, "but it doesn't work. The element of chance is too special to orchestrate."
What is amazing about both artists' works is the unintended outcomes, the untouched nuances of not knowing the end results. The artists are free to enjoy the process of making their art, and audiences are able to appreciate the beautiful outcomes.
something happened here opens tonight at Champion with an opening party with Quintana and Schenning in attendance. The show remains open until Nov 12.