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Curated Shows: Immaterial



Immaterial, a selection of works from 2003 - 2006, by Sam Clayton.

Sam is a native New Yorker whose work has been exhibited publicly and privately in the US and Europe since the mid 70's.

This is his first show with the gallery and includes multi media-collage works on paper whose impact is both intimate and immediate.

The title of the exhibition, Immaterial, comes from Sam's investigations with the concept of transcendence.

The experience and understanding of the self is extremely complex, and often goes unexamined. He poses the question "Can a work of art provide the viewer with a kind of Rorshach moment, stimulating a visceral reaction by juxtaposing image with form, space, texture and color".

Immaterial is his most recent body of work that attempts to examine that question.

Artist Sam Clayton lives in two worlds.

One is the external world of physical objects and the other is the internal world of experience and transcendence.

His work explores the areas in which these two worlds overlap, collide and balance each other. His multi-media collages add a bright and insightful addition to New York City's fall shows.

Clayton draws on disparate styles and mediums in his attempts to unify these two different aspects of human existence. Very much a polymath, Clayton assembles elements created in charcoal, ink, gouache, watercolor and acrylic.

The artist leaves this process open-ended, attempting to give the viewer "a kind of Rorshach moment." Each journey through genre arrives at an underlying truth, and Clayton allows the viewer to determine exactly what that truth is. Clayton uses the body as a surface upon which to explore the nature of this truth.

In nearly all the works on show, internal experience is both enacted and projected on the human form. Plumbing the depths by limning the surface, the artist explores the dualism of the external world and internal experience.

Some works are of images that have been ripped apart and reassembled anew to reveal the tension between seen and unseen topographies.

Aptly, Clayton cleaves in two the abstract portraits of the Fifties. Rather than rendering the subject in an abstract idiom, Clayton has rendered his figures in gripping realism, only to add to the frame abstract elements consisting of organic splatters and geometric lines. These splatters incorporate the notions of movement and the element of time, inviting a narrative interpretation.

Each work is a frozen record, a snapshot of both a body and a body of thought.

While the portraits within each work are often done in the grays and blacks of charcoal, the overlain splatters evince a Pop art color scheme of pastel hues, extending the underlying thematic tension to the formal aspect of color. Revealing an inner world through the outer one is a herculean task, which the artist unabashedly questions.

While he might not have finally arrived in one unified world, each piece is an important step and a confident one at that. For all his attempts to reveal the duality of his own existence, the work and the inspiration seemlessly blend, as the journey of making art is an allegory for the quest to unite distinct halves.

The works reassuredly express doubt and demonstrate an awareness of all that remains unknown, creating a paradox apt for simultaneously exploring two worlds that are unreconcilable by their nature.

These works spring from Sam's deeply felt love of painting, drawing and sculpture -- not only of the rendered image, but of the raw materials that go into the work.

The narrative element is to be found -- or perhaps, created -- by the viewer. Their response springs from the collision of those raw materials, which resonate with the unconscious, the rendered image, and mirror what we confront in our lives on a daily basis.

We live in a world of form and substance, the physical world masking the other reality, that of the internal world. But what is behind that mask?

These works are not meant to be understood literally.

Their power is in the visual poetry of this collision of the seen and the unseen.












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