In Every Direction: Robert Lansden
October 17 through November 23, 2014
Opening reception: October 17, 2014, 6-9pm
In Every Direction, Robert Lansden’s third exhibition with the gallery, is a presentation of 12 new highly obsessive drawings in gouache, watercolor or ink on paper that are built upon algorithms, a set of instructions that details how he will draw each series. Different algorithms result in multiple drawing series that appear divergent but all of Lansden’s work is focused on explorations of chance, discovery and time.
For Lansden, using instructions on how to make a drawing removes decisions about how each drawing will look, “…I feel it (the algorithm) allows me to concentrate on logistical issues instead of aesthetics.” This focus on process allows him to attempt the consistent repetition of the same mark over and over. However, this method actually reveals tiny irregularities and inconsistencies in the movement of his hand and the intrinsic qualities of the chosen medium (ink, watercolor, gouache or pencil) magnify themselves over the course making the drawing. The instructions determine the medium and the characteristics of the medium are revealed in the action of making the drawing. Unintentional changes in the mark are inevitable. “Each time I start a drawing what I use to make the drawing is determined solely on how efficiently it will allow me to follow the algorithm. I have, in a way, liberated myself from aesthetic concerns and any attachment to the results.”
Lansden’s drawings, as dictated by the algorithm, are not signs to be deciphered in terms of a pre-existing code, and their content is not an explicit, discursively articulated concept. Although his intent is to be free of aesthetic decisions his results are highly visual. Each drawing, in spite of its verbally articulated beginning, avoids the straightforward expression of unequivocal ideas. Lansden writes, “Each time an algorithm is used I hope to learn something new, have a different experience of it, and delight in not knowing.” His repetitive, mark-laden abstractions are the evidence of the time it takes him to make the drawing and they also represent the activity of his brain and hand at the time of the drawing’s creation. The algorithm is a rational description of the process of making each composition and yet the actual making results in exquisitely beautiful drawings that are ironically, highly aesthetic.
The tension between the rationality of the algorithm and the irregularity of his hand, unique to the time it took to make the drawing itself, are what make his work enjoyable aesthetic experiences. Robert Lansden’s work blends influences from artists like Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin and James Sienna, among others and form subtle, undulating abstractions that evolve over time into a mixture of compulsion and random possibility with rational intent.