Blain|Southern presents an exhibition of paintings by LA artist Ed Moses, featuring a wide range of work all produced throughout the last decade. It will be the ninety-year-old artist’s first UK solo exhibition in ten years.
Rising to prominence in the late 1950s alongside a group of artists associated with the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, Ed Moses is widely revered as one of the most innovative and influential painters of the American West Coast art scene. Deliberately eschewing artistic trends and movements throughout his career, he has avoided having a single signature style and to this day refuses categorisation.
Never working with preconceived ideas, experimentation and chance play an important role in the artist’s practice. Moses employs various tools and techniques, and during his process paint might be poured, dripped, dragged or wiped down the canvas. Moses is not looking to control the process but rather be in tune with it – decisions are instinctive rather than calculated as he connects with the material in a way that he refuses to fully describe or explain. He works on up to 20 paintings at a time outdoors at his Venice Beach studio, discarding many along the way. ‘When they light up,‘ he says, ‘I keep them. And if they don’t light up, I don’t want them.’
Several large canvases and a painting such as Ocnaf (2008) is made by saturating the canvases with water before pouring heavily diluted paint down the surface, creating free-flowing fusions of colour. Moses’ restless experimentation can be seen in the ruptured surfaces of his ‘crackle paintings’ such as W/Black & Black/White (2012). With an effect initially produced by an accidental fall onto a semi-finished painting, that moment of chaos is translated into a series of conscious gestures. After applying a layer of what he calls his ‘secret sauce’ to a prepared canvas, he adds subsequent layers of paint and pushes his fists or elbows into the canvas to produce an unpredictable rippling crackle effect as the paint dries.
Moses describes his intuitive relationship with painting as the natural desire to verify his existence through mark-making and as such his paintings act as records of momentary gestures. ‘In painting, one thing leads to another. I’m not going to hang on to one when the other appears. I’ll chase that down a rat-hole… if you have two opposing elements with the right ignition, a third will appear and the original two might disappear in the gap. In the gap lies the magic.’
Blain Southern (press release)