LAUNCH LA is proud to present two new solo exhibitions, Before Present by William Wray and Houses by John Scane. At first glance little similarities exist between Wray’s raw streetscapes and Scane’s non-objective patchwork arrangements, yet at their roots, both bodies of work are quite similar: both artists were trained and worked in the figurative arts and eschew more and more of these rules for the freedom inherent in abstraction. Through their processes both artists find experiences and memories that inspire them and then work to trim away as much extraneous visual detail as possible from these without destroying their substance, until what remains is a purer communication – an idea compressed into the simplicity of shape and shade.
Scane’s Houses embraces a satisfying simplicity both in terms of its palette and forms that belies the depth of its subject matter. “The ‘Houses’ series is about relationships: personal relationships with family and friends as well as formal relationships of color and composition. Both kinds of relationships change over time, and both seem to be intertwined to me,” explains Scane. Like Wray, Scane is driven by his personal experiences – each painting begins with the memory of a house, the relationships it represented, the lives and moment that unfolded within. As paint is added, pushed and drawn across his canvas, these memories well forth and recede again with successive layers as forms emerge, guided more by feeling than a desire to duplicate the physical reality of these houses.
The images are composed of segments of color in which muted blues, greens and purples predominate, arranged in what initially appears a purely abstract manner. Their shapes possess no clearly defined edges, their lines waver and their colors meet to metamorphose into another shade or to clash jarringly with an adjacent field of contrasting color. Yet closer inspection brings out more literal possibilities, as Scane puts it: “Architectural and landscape views combine, hovering between street level and bird’s eye views, creating a pictorial space that is at once flat and illusionistic.” Entertaining this perspective, in one painting a rectangular yellowish shape leaps forth, becomes an open doorway; warmth and light spills invitingly out into the night. This is the gateway, shapes become not just houses, but homes, bearing the marks of their inhabitants, their families and histories in an intuitive code of color and light.
John Scane was born in Los Angeles in 1967. Spending the first year of life as a foster child Scane was later adopted by his foster parents and raised in the small town of Glendora in Southern California. After attending California State University Long Beach, Scane became active in the Los Angeles art scene. Trained primarily as a painter Scane has expanded his skills to include photography, design, woodworking and sculpture. For 15 years he owned his own woodworking business where he designed and built many custom furniture pieces. He has exhibited his art nationally and internationally, received a generous amount of press and has his work in many private collections. In 2003 he co-founded the artist group Pharmaka that is based in Los Angeles. For the past 13 years he has been on the faculty at the renowned Orange County School for the Arts as their Advanced Painting Instructor.
The “Houses” series is about relationships: personal relationships with family and friends as well as formal relationships of color and composition. Both kinds of relationships change over time, and both seem to be intertwined for me.
The paintings are not literal depictions of houses, but more of a parallel construction. As I work on each painting, memories of houses and the relationships they represent materialize and recede, spawned by moments of ‘pushing paint.’ Combinations of shape and color reminds me of the light and spaces where memories were formed, which in turn informs the paintings.
Choices of colors, shapes, and forms spark the painting process. As I paint, relationships between warm and cool hues, as well as subtle shifts in value and placement, act as building blocks that define space and subject. Architectural and landscape views combine, hovering between street level and bird’s-eye views, creating a pictorial space that is at once flat and illusionistic.