TACOS (& A STUDIO VISIT) WITH CHUCK WEBSTER
Feb 14th 2011, Evan J. Garza, New American Paintings
Tucked away in a two-story walk-up in a northeast corner of Brooklyn is Chuck Websterâ€˜s Bushwick studio and apartment. And, lucky for him (and me), thereâ€™s a pretty mean Mexican taqueria across the street from the Jefferson stop on the L, just a few of blocks away. Since great Mexican food is hard to find in Boston, I jumped at the invitation while in New York last week to have a few chorizo tacos with Chuck and take a look at his work for My Small Adventures, his upcoming solo show of new paintings with ZieherSmith in Chelsea, opening this Thursday.
Chuckâ€™s work occupies a necessary place in contemporary abstraction, where insistence of form is met by both a genuine investigation of mark-making and child-like curiosity. The vehicle for his works are wooden panels (equipped with shelf-like grids on the back) whose surfaces are deeply sanded, discolored, and scratched â€” offering a kind of weathered, wistful context by which to examine his forms. That nostalgia was furthered during my visit after Webster opened his flat files, which are filled with collaborations between he and Eddie Martinez, as well as several colorful drawings made by Webster at the age of 10. Astonishingly, the contours of the monsters depicted therein strongly resemble the forms that Chuck still creates to this day. If itâ€™s true that some artists spend their entire lives trying to paint like a child, then Webster doesnâ€™t have to work very hard.
CHUCK WEBSTER: â€˜PAINTINGSâ€™
May 24th, 2012, by Roberta Smith, The New York Times
Chuck Websterâ€™s new panel paintings, seen in his sixth solo exhibition at this gallery, are the best of his career. They are also very much, if not startlingly, little big paintings: they have a strange, irrepressible scale, a largeness that exceeds their size and creates a distinctive, slightly comedic sense of intimacy.
All feature variations on an enclosed, linear, somewhat hieroglyphic motif, usually rendered in thick black lines. Suggesting cave paintings, irregular ziggurats and primitive maps, these variations also strongly evoke the art of Paul Klee, meaning they would seem natural to paintings not much larger than your face. Two works here are almost that small, but the others are five or six feet high and seven or eight across. This is not big by Gagosian standards, and thatâ€™s the point. The bigness resides within the paintings, in the three-way tension involving panel size, the drawing of the linear motif and surface textures.
MINIME-ALISM: SHEILA HICKS AT SIKKEMA JENKINS AND CHUCK WEBSTER AT ZIEHER-SMITH
May 2012, by Will Heinrich, Gallerist NY
At Zieher-Smith, Chuck Websterâ€™s suite of new paintings uses a similar trick to very different, though equally appealing, effect. Seven oils on panel, all in the same stolidly proportioned rectangle but ranging in size from letter paper to billboard, combine striking, graffiti-bright colours, a bold, Haring-like line, and unvarnished surfaces sanded down flatter than a slate sidewalk to portray variations of a kind of toothy step-pyramid figure. The figureâ€™s interior is broken up or decorated with little lines, crossed like sutures, extending like diagrams of electric current or bucking like schematic deer on a Plains tepee. The backgroundâ€™s in most cases, are painted in multiple distinct layer and then deeply work away, to produce chaotic flurries of colour. A black outlined, sold yellow from like a pueblo; or a white tooth marked with sideways gray brackets; or a red-outlines cartoon cake.
2008, by Shane McAdams, The Brooklyn Rail
Since the 1960s, certain portions of the conceptual art world have been on a mission to emancipate artâ€™s intellectual essence from its corporeal burdenâ€”to make art into pure idea. Lucy Lippard gave her account of this purging in her book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972. No one really doubts that materiality in art will endure because human beings, no matter the level of intellectual development or technological reinforcement, are at heart smarter monkeys who like to use their senses to navigate the world. This tends to be forgotten though when the art market shakes up and sends the pendulum swinging toward the immaterial. I was reminded of this recently at Chuck Websterâ€™s exhibition, O My Soul at ZieherSmith, where, with my somnolent material desires in tow, I think I saw that pendulum switching directions.