Featured in Belmont’s Leu Art Gallery, “Bedrock” is a series of abstract panel pieces with layers of paint, correction tape and “rhythms of dots” that might have you wondering, “what are these paintings of?”
For artist Lain York, whose exhibition is on display until Jan. 26, that’s the point.
“When I get in the studio, I want to do something different. So when I do put something down, it’s something that might not make any sense to me,” York said. “That’s the way my aesthetic is forged.”
His mixed media paintings juxtapose formal design elements like size, line and color with abstraction. With gestural lines of correction tape, York departs from deliberately figural to freehanded composition.
“I think there’s a beauty to what I do,” York said. “I respond to things, and other people might look at it and go, ‘Really? You think that looks good?’ But it looks good to me.”
York used his hands to apply layers of paint, to bury and add elements to each birch panel piece. He said it’s the most direct relationship he can have with the medium.
Jessica Owings is Leu Art Gallery’s director and an adjunct professor at Belmont. She said having “Bedrock” at Belmont is an opportunity for students to view York’s work and “the complexities that can arise from simplicity,” while exploring their thoughts about contemporary abstract art.
“There’s a calm, quiet beauty to the show plus there’s a playful quality to his presentation,” Owings said.
“Bedrock” is inspired by archeological and historical records, but each abstract painting is open ended, allowing viewers to fuse their own experiences with York’s art.
“I think it’s all just a platform for conversation and personal reflection, or dialogue,” York said.
The exhibition’s name, “Bedrock,” pays homage to William Hanna and Joseph Barbera’s “The Flintstones.” York’s “Flagstone (Kenneth Muse Residence)” directly references the cartoon’s animator.
“Bactria (swimming pool design)” and “Untitled (Permian Chapters)” are made up of 12 panels, denoting passages of time and physical development. Just as tectonic plates move apart and come together again through entropy, both mixed media pieces show stages of movement and progression.