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tRajectory Alex couwenberg may 4 - may 29, 2011 1


Trajectory Alex couwenberg may 4 - may 29, 2011

GalleRy DirectoRs David Eichholtz & Richard Barger

130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 www.DavidRichardContemporary.com | info@DavidRichardContemporary.com


Front Cover: lani 2009, 72" x 66" Acrylic on canvas over panel 2

PREVIOUS PAGE: party crasher 2011, 32" x 30" Acrylic on canvas over panel right: boyo 2010, 48" x 46", Acrylic on canvas over panel

Published on the occasion of the exhibition, “Trajectory”, May 4 - 29, 2011.

© 2011 David Richard Contemporary, LLC


alex   couwenberg Trajectory by James Yood

I like to see complexity resolved. There’s a certain beauty in an intricately plotted mystery, a Baroque fugue, a Roman floor mosaic, a Dickens novel, anything that seems at first to be scattered and random, too filled with separate thoughts and contradictory impulses ever to come together—and then they do, they take what seemed to be chaos and turn it into pattern, they bring what seemed to be arbitrary and make it appear inevitable. That’s part of what I respond to most about the work of Alex Couwenberg, how his is a highly personal art of retrieval and reconciliation, how he skirts the edge of dissolution and wreaks it into hard-won harmony, how he shuffles it—whatever “it” is-- relentlessly to and fro, weighing and adjusting, calibrating and interrupting, a quick swivel here, an unexpected torque there, a whisper of the stability of line tested by a sudden tonal shift--well, you better bring your lunch, there’s nothing quick and easy about this work, you’re going to have to do some serious looking. If you’re a musician or a writer or a dancer you can take your audience through these acts of reconciliation in time, time gives you the thread you can follow from beginning to middle to end. But a painter! Time is collapsed all within one surface, one rectangle, only the artist knows the layers embedded beneath the final painting,

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remembers when everything seemed lost, the false steps and conundrums that needed to be rectified and solved, the pivotal moment where it began to come together, the rush of being when all the intricacies began to resolve themselves, that final sense when you were finished, that it was done. That’s how I imagine Alex Couwenberg works, that within his own idiom (and more on that in a bit) he does his version of the painter’s core archetypal thing: to do something on the surface

of a painting that requires him to do another thing that calls for something else that means he has to do this other thing and so forth until he’s locked in the taut embrace of picture-making that only ends when the damn thing is done. Take, for example, Peep Show. Notice how rarely Couwenberg centers his


peepshow 2011, 32" x 30" Acrylic on canvas over panel

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imagery, it usually falls off somewhat to the right, as if it settles somewhere on the composition where a lot of toing and fro-ing had to happen. (This reminds me a bit of how a Scrabble board gets played, sometimes one quadrant gets all the action and another seems immobile, frozen, what begins in the very center ends up meandering away as the game progress-

es.) And while there may be a tendency to privilege Couwenberg’s painterly and linear incident in these works, one should never overlook the color he initially lays down on these canvases. In Peep Show it’s a deep dark gray, a kind of Jasper Johns gray, a gravitas gray that seems solemn and determined, not like the spry tans or cool blues or creamy light yellows or rich browns or even the pale grays or off-whites he’ll use elsewhere. Somehow this first color is the first gesture for Couwenberg, the causal gesture, it provides the context for what will ensue, somehow this graphite gray from which he can go darker or lighter will motivate the next gesture he will make.

Only Couwenberg knows what that next gesture was. It may not even be on the surface of Peep Show any longer, it’s probably not, that gesture itself perhaps effaced by his subsequent activities, the motival act buried beneath its many progeny. We’re left with the finished thing, the endgame, but only Couwenberg got to play it, there’s a process going on here but we don’t get to see it work itself out, we just get to see it resolved into a kind of hard won but inevitable perfection. But let me tell you how I go about looking at a painting by Alex Couwenberg. I stare at it for a while, and then try to find a fulcrum point in it, some smallish element somewhere that somehow seems the opening salvo to the whole composition, the little Rosetta Stone that decodes it, the spring lock, the tether, the string that you can pull on to unravel it all. In Peep Show for me it’s the little silhouette of 3/5 of a circle set within the orange field at the lower center part of the painting. I look at that thin circular line and suddenly everything starts to spin off it, sometimes logically, just as you would expect, but sometimes in riffs of such curious curvy inventiveness that it starts to careen about, into the vortex you go, up, down, left, right, solid, transparent, substance and schematic, flatness and texture, interpenetrating areas of positive and negative space that never seem to cease shuffling about. (OK, here are a few of my other tethers, in Lani it’s the little horizontal blue bar a bit to the right of the center, in Cadillac it’s the top of the gray cone at the bottom center, in Showist it’s the olive


green area that seems to propel itself leftward, Hijack is a tough one, but I can’t take my eyes off that incredibly assertive small swath of orange that makes a mini arc at the right-center of the painting. Sometimes it’s a big thing, this tether, but often it’s a small element, sometimes a little child will lead them.) Tension and release, areas of tight energy then radiating and diffusing outward, almost centrifugal in nature, that’s a Couwenberg move, action and echo, a balance always achieved at last. But so much of the allure of Alex Couwenberg’s work resides in the stylistic idiom that his hand and eye and mind always gravitates toward, that is some reflexive part of his being, his way of ordering himself through the world. It’s an incredible communing with the fundamentals of a kind of so cool SoCal Modernism, a here muted beckoning of a giddy California 1960s design, for sources it’s all woofers all the time, Philco TVs meet Valley burger joints, Jazz LP covers in a Ford Fairlane, TV antennas from the Brady Bunch house, funny-car decals, the curve and the swerve, like nothing exists but bulbous swivel chairs and sleek hi-fi components. None of those things actually appear in any of these paintings, but their aura everywhere does, Couwenberg’s got all this stamped in his DNA, if DNA was only a bit more oval and torqued. It’s not nostalgia, certainly not retro, or only marginally and obliquely so, it’s a visual manifestation of time and place, as connected to its context as European Cubism is to the

staccato rhythms of early modern urbanism. Couwenberg summons the attentive optimism of SoCal design culture, its bold curves and upbeat rhythms, he layers and de- and reconstructs them, he channels them from function to pictorial language because it’s his vernacular culture, because it’s his. These new paintings, soberly and with exquisite control and attention to detail, appear to me to evoke these things and more. Let’s close with Alt (tether? For me it’s the small vertical greenish rectangle at the bottom center). It takes you for a skillful spin in and around itself, with thin lines and sweeping arcs releasing and resolving its density in several directions towards its edges, a taut image of great concentration then gently dissipating outward. Above all else what I appreciate in it and in the work of Alex Couwenberg is that balance of tension and release, of passages of such focus and hypersensitivity that I think they can never be escaped--and then suddenly they are, in images that always manage to negotiate their way through the seemingly contradictory zones of multiple interpenetrative attentiveness and the equanimity of resolution and calm. They’re complexity resolved.

James Yood teaches modern and contemporary art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he also directs its New Arts Journalism program.

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ALT 2011, 24" x 24", Acrylic on canvas

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boyo 2010, 48" x 46", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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cadillac 2011, 32" x 30", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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fairfax 2009, 78" x 96", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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hijack 2011, 32" x 30", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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janie jones 2011, 48" x 46", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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lani 2009, 72" x 66" Acrylic on canvas over panel

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Makai 2009, 72" x 66" Acrylic on canvas over panel

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party crasher 2011, 32" x 30" Acrylic on canvas over panel

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peepshow 2011, 32" x 30" Acrylic on canvas over panel

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showist 2011, 16" x 20", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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sunkist 2011, 16" x 20", Acrylic on canvas over panel

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alex couwenberg b. 1967, Upland, CA Education: 18

1997 MFA, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA 1995 BFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA Awards: 2007 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant Solo Exhibitions: 2011 2009 2008 2007 2005 2004 1996

"New Paintings," Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, CA "Trajectory," David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM "New Paintings," Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA "New Paintings," William Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2010 "New Paintings," Markel Fine Arts, New York, NY "New Paintings," OBJCT Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Waimea," Royale Projects, Indian Wells, CA "Morphic Tracis," San Luis Obispo Art Center, San Luis Obispo, CA "A Bit Left of All Right," William Turner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Singles," Gilman Contemporary, Ketchum, ID "Arcade," Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Working Space,” Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO “Bypassing Referents,” Markel Fine Arts, New York, NY “Cosmetically, Aesthetically, Unregrettably,” d.e.n. Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA “New Paintings,” Gilman Contemporary, Ketchum, ID “New Paintings,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA 2006 “New Paintings,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Black Labeled,” Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CA “Alex Couwenberg: a ten year evolution,” University Gallery, CSUS, Turlock, CA “de Stad,” Markel Fine Arts, New York, NY “Metropolitan”, 455 Market Street Lobby Gallery, San Francisco, CA “tussenruimte”, Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA “Primo,” Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2003 "Paintings,” Gensler, San Francisco, CA “Paintings; a seven year survey,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA 2002 "New Paintings," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2001 “New Paintings," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1999 "New Paintings," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 1997 “The Hot Rod Series," East Gallery, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA "New Paintings," Dillingham/Caples Gallery, Claremont, CA


Selected Group Exhibitions: 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005

"A Generous Spirit," Robert and Francis Fullerton Museum of Art, CSUSB, CA "Karl Benjamin: Under The Influence," Royale Projects, Indian Wells, CA "Over Paper," Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO "Line, Curve, Form," David Richard Contemporary, Santa Fe, NM "Claremont Modernism," OBJCT Gallery, Claremont, CA "What", Andrea Schwartz Gallery, San Francisco, CA "The New Irascibles," AC Projects, Pomona, CA "Rant," Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, CA "Los Angeles Currents," Coturier Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Enduring Legacy," Claremont Museum of Art, Claremont, CA "ONA2X2," Cypress College, Cypress, CA “Liquid Light,” Museum of Design Art and Architecture, Culver City, CA “Between the Lines,” William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA “15 Years, 15 Artists,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Art Auction 100,” Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA “The Finish Fetish,” Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Palm Desert, CA “Keeping It Straight,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA “Works on Paper,” Gilman Contemporary, Ketchum, ID “West Coast Abstraction,” Peter Blake Galley, Laguna Beach, CA “Liquid Light,” DBA256, Pomona, CA “Off the Grid,” William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, CA “Paintings Edge,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA “Inland Emperors,” DBA256, Pomona, CA Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA “Inaugural Exhibition,” Gilman Contemporary, Ketchum, ID “Summer Group Show,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Art Auction 12,” Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA “Venice Art Walk,” Venice, CA “Decade,” Dolby Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CA “Out of Line,” Cal State Stanislaus, University Gallery, Turlock, CA “Grey Scale,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Art Auction = Stimulus,” Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA “Let There Be Light,” Phantom Galleries, Los Angeles, CA “Aligning With Abstract Los Angeles,” d.e.n. Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA “Landscape Perspectives,” Art + Industry, Palm Springs, CA “Summer Abstraction,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Monotype,” d.e.n. Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA “2nd Gwang Hwa Moon International Arts Festival,” Sejong Center, Seoul, Korea “Flow: Fine Lines on Water,” Peter Blake Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA “Flow: Fine Lines on Water,” Lisa Coscino Gallery, Pacific Grove, CA “Recent Acquisitions,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA “Border Crossing,” Sopa Fine Arts, British Columbia, Canada “Out of Line,” Parks Exhibition Center, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA “Inaugural Exhibition,” Sopa Fine Arts, British Columbia, Canada “A Common Thread,” Soho Myriad, Atlanta, GA “Out of Line,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA “Out of Line,” Brandstater Gallery, La Sierra University, Riverside, CA “Abstract Los Angeles”, Louisiana Tech University Galleries, Ruston, LA “Art Auction 11”, Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA “Theories: LA Paint,” Post, Los Angeles, CA “Venice Art Walk”, Venice, CA “Monothon, 2005,” Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA

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2004 “Luster,” Gensler, San Francisco, CA “Abstract Work from the Permanent Collection,” Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA “Continental Divide: LA/NYC,” Planet Thailand, Brooklyn, NY “Abstract Los Angeles,” Soho Myriad, Atlanta, GA “20th Anniversary Exhibition,” Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 2003 “No Chaser; Straight Ahead Abstract Painting,” Post, Los Angeles, CA “Group Show,” Dolby/Chadwick Gallery, San Francisco, CA ”Black and White,” Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "New Paintings," Soho Myriad, Atlanta, GA “Venice Art Walk,” Venice, CA “Art Auction 10,” Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA 2002 "California Dream," Il Museo I Magli di Sarezzo, Brescia, Italy "Summer Group Show," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Sam Maloof and Friends," dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA 2001 "New American Paintings Group Show," OSP Gallery/Open Studio Press, Boston, MA "Homage: Roland Reiss," Claremont Graduate School alumni show, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA "Art Auction 9," Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA "Monothon, 2001," Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA "Sequence," Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery, Walnut, CA 2000 "Art 2000: Applauding Revolutionary Talent," Millard Sheets Gallery, Pomona, CA 1999 "Faculty Exhibition," Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery, Walnut, CA "Faculty Exhibition," Chaffey College, Ontario Museum of Art, Ontario, CA 1998 "Six Gallery Artist," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Synchronicity," Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery, Walnut, CA "Contemporary Works of the Ruth Bachofner Gallery," Antelope Valley College, Lancaster, CA 1997 "Convergent Abstraction," Ruth Bachofner Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "L.A. Emerging," Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, GA "Art Auction 6," Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA "3 Weeks in L.A.," Richard Heller Gallery, Los Angeles, CA "Recent Paintings," Marcia Wood Gallery, Atlanta, GA “Fringe of the Fringe,” dA Gallery Benefit Art Auction, dA Center for the Arts, Pomona, CA 1996 “42.2 - CGS to Paradiso,” Gallery Paradiso, Newport Beach, CA “Painting and Sculpture,” Art Center Alumni Show, Thousand Oaks Municipal Art Gallery, Thousand Oaks, CA 1995 “Raw Data,” East Gallery, Claremont Graduate School, Claremont, CA 1994 "Recent Work," Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA "Youth Culture," Lava Room, Costa Mesa, CA


Selected Public Collections: California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, CA Claremont Museum of Art, Claremont, CA Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO Georgia Tech University, Atlanta, GA Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA Pitzer College, Claremont, CA Pomona College, Claremont, CA Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA Selected Corporate Collections: AIG, New York, NY Analysis Group, Menlo Park, CA Apax Partners, Menlo Park, CA Balboa Bay Club, Newport Beach, CA Baoa Resort, China Bellagio Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV Claiborn and Barksdail, Atlanta, GA The Clift Hotel, San Francisco, CA Colonial Hotel, Laguna Beach, CA Filmore Heritage Center, San Francisco, CA Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz, Newport Beach, CA Genentech, San Francisco, CA Hotel Commonwealth, Boston, MA Bank Julius Baer, Los Angeles, CA Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV Mandarin Hotel, Manhattan, NY McKenna, Long, & Aldridge, Atlanta, GA Metropolitan Hotel, Manhattan, NY MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT Museum Towers @ Centennial Hill, Atlanta, GA Neiman Marcus Collection Nishiumeda, Tokyo, Japan Nordstrom Collection Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Menlo Park, CA Our Lucaya Resort, Grand Bahama Island Peninsula Shanghai Waitan, Hong Kong, China Red Rock Resort, Las Vegas, NV Ritz Carlton, Los Angeles, CA Riverhorse Investment, Los Angeles, CA Roll International, Los Angeles, CA Suncal Inc., Irvine, CA United States Federal Reserve, St. Louis, MO Verisign, San Francisco, CA Visa USA, Foster City, CA Wadsworth Publishing Company 1st Born Entertainment, Santa Monica, CA

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Bibliography:

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Walters, Danielle, Beverly Hills Lifestyle, "Creating Balance", Spring 2011 Roth, David, Square Cylinder, February, 2011 California Home and Design, "Left Coast Looks", February, 2011 Dambrot, Shana Nys, "Flavorpill New York," Alex Couwenberg, "New Paintings," March 2010 Artdailey.org, Alex Couwenberg, "New Paintings," March 2010 Zimmermann, Mark, Art: Theories and Provocations, March, 2010 Biller, Steven, Palm Springs Life, "Game On: The "Arcade Paintings", November 2009 Nichols, Kimberly, Desert Magazine, "Art For Now", November 2009 Melrod, George, Artltd., "Under the Radar," May 2009 Myers, Holly, Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2009 Harris, Freddie, Sun Valley Magazine, "Gallery Openings," Winter 2008 California Home and Design, "Art and Antiques," September 2008 Gay, Malcolm, Riverfront Times, "St. Louis Art Capsules," May 20, 2008 Grossman, Emily, Art and Living, "The Straight Take", March 20, 2008 The New York Sun, “Brother Culture” January 25, 2008 Biller, Steven, Palm Springs Life, “Critics Pick,” January, 2008 Davies, Stacy, IE Weekly, “Everything Old Is New Again,” January 17, 2008 Myers, Holly, Los Angeles Times, “Like 50’s lounge music, remixed,” August 17, 2007 Gleason, Mat, ArtScene, July/August 2007 Artdaily.org, July 2007 Tibbitz, Ashley, Flavorpill, July 17-23, 2007 ARTltd., “Pulse,” July 2007 Bossick, Karen, Wood River Journal, “Buzzer, Gilman Contemporary”, August 1, 2007 Carasso, Roberta, Coast Magazine, September, 2007 Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Grids Unlocked,” Art Pick of the Week, June 6, 2007 Jit Fong Chin, SqueezeOC, “Grey Matters”, January, 2007 Walsh, Daniella, Orange County Register, “Shades of Gray”, January 14, 2007 Carasso, Roberta, Laguna News Post, “Artwaves” January 4, 2007 Walsh, Daniella, Riviera Magazine, “The Radar Art” January, 2007 Rupe, Cynthia, SqueezeOC, Picks of the Week, January 4, 2007 Mckenna, John Page, Palm Springs Life, Winter/Spring 2007 Melrod, George, Art Ltd., “Culver City: Chelsea West?” October, 2006 Cripps, Mick, Lifescapes, “Artist Profile,” September, 2006 Allen, Bobbie, Coastline Pilot, “Seven Abstractionists for summer,” July 6, 2006 Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Art Pick of the Week,” October 2005 Muckenfuss, Mark, Press Enterprise, Riverside Museum Monothon Event, September, 2005 Simou, Alexandra, New York Sun, January 26, 2005 Kugelman, Kerry, Art Circles, fall 2004 Cullum, Jerry, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Review, August 29, 2004 Gilbert, Debora, Greenline, March, 2004 Gleason, Mat, Artscene, February, 2004 Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, “Art pick of the week,” February, 2004 Novick, La Rue, Daily Bulletin, February, 2004 Litz, Paige, Los Angeles Times, “Going Beneath the Surface,” October 10, 2003 Moyle, Andrew, 210 Magazine, October, 2003 Nelson, Harold, Director, Long Beach Museum of Art, Statement, 2002 Alfred, E. Anne, Asst. Director, Riverside Museum of Art, Statement, 2002 Dennison, Lisa, New American Paintings, vol. 37, 2001-02 Roth, Charlene, Artweek, "Alexander Couwenberg at Ruth Bachofner Gallery," March, 2001 Frank, Peter, LA Weekly, "Art pick of the week," January, 2001


Visiting Artist / Lecturer: Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA California State University Northridge, Northridge, CA Paintings Edge, Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, CA Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA California State University Stanislaus, Turlock, CA Idyllwild Arts Academy, Idyllwild, CA Millard Sheets Gallery, Pomona, CA

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ISBN 978-0-9834078-3-6 Price $15.00

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130 Lincoln Avenue, Suite D, Santa Fe, NM 87501 | p (505) 983-9555 | f (505) 983-1284 www.DavidRichardContemporary.com | info@DavidRichardContemporary.com

Alex Couwenberg  

Trajectory

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