Exhibition of new paintings and prints
April 24, 2015 – Jun 09, 2015
Friday, May 01, 2015 6-8pm
Saturday, May 02, 2015 11am
460 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02118
Andrew Millner’s “Red Rose Parade.”
By Cate McQuaid GLOBE CORRESPONDENT MAY 19, 2015
Put aside, for a moment, that Andrew Millner’s eye-candy painting “Red Rose Parade” looks like the top of a gloriously decorated sheet cake — all glossy loop-the-loops and gleaming rosettes. There are more important things to discuss about his show at Miller Yezerski Gallery: Definitions of drawing and painting, of realism and fantasy, and how they all mix perversely in this artist’s forward-thinking view of floral still lifes. Millner draws with a stylus on a tablet. He prints his drawings on photosensitive paper. Are they drawings? Yes. Are they photographs? Of a sort. For his paintings, he extrudes pipes of paint through a tube, like a pastry bag. The work comprises lines of paint — rather like a drawing. Then, he often layers his ropes of color, building to three dimensions. Enchanted by the sheer volume of roses on the floats at the Rose Bowl Parade, Millner created digital drawings of scads of blossoms. For “Red Rose Parade,” he printed them on linen, as a map to follow, and traced over the drawings with shades of red, yellow, orange, and pink, Up close, the loops don’t look like flowers at all — more like small knots and open, luxuriant snaggles. Yet in the way that Millner curls and builds up the paint, the lines and colors become uncannily flowerlike. They are all about the material, almost defiant of illusion, until, dang!, the illusion blossoms. “Red Rose Parade” comprises four panels, which can fit together in a variety of constellations, like tiles in a patterned mosaic. There’s shrewd design beneath the overflowing exuberance of the image. With each step, the artist holds in the balance documentation, design, and fevered leaps of imagination. Millner also has digital drawings on display. “Bouquet,” in brooding wine reds, quietly glows with flowers outlined in bright gold and purple. The precise detail in the drawings contradicts the giddily loose contours in his paintings. That’s the pleasure of the exhibition: So many contradictions, surprisingly resolved.
by Andrew Millner
Rose Parade continues my investigation into the relationship between art and nature, the natural and the made.
In 2011, interested in expanding my subject matter, I made arrangements with a float building company in Pasadena to take pictures of floats as they were decorated for the 2012 New Year’s Day parade. I was excited by the figurative possibilities of the repeating patterns of flowers.
As with my previous work, I traced over the patterns of flowers from the photos on the computer and created a series of digital drawings. I was excited by the prospect of a “parade of paintings,” a repeating, painted pattern like an EKG or Brancusi’s endless column that could go on forever. I experimented on the computer, printing out large variations of scale and color. The computer’s ability to repeat and mirror offered an exciting counterpoint to my freehand contour drawings and the biomorphic endless variety of repeating floral forms.
Once I had the drawing patterns, I experimented with different materials. I wanted to reconnect these digital works with materials of painting’s past. One of Monet’s water lily studies at The Met depicts a lily with a single fresh line squeezed from the tube. Constructing my paintings from squeezing tubes of paint rather than with a brush brought together interesting ideas of painting’s past, painting as drawing, and the paint standing in for a flower.
Fleshing out an idea takes a contradictory combination of openness and will. Since icing is a lot cheaper than paint, I began experimenting with icing. I bought a variety of different color icings and cake decorating equipment and started drawing with them. After much trial and error, I found the right viscosity and the right tools to apply a thick, spool of line. Switching from icing to paint, the pure cadmium yellows, oranges, and reds of historic paint colors corresponded easily to the flowers of the floats.
The bouquet prints explore the same subject through different means and media. There is something poignant and beautiful about cut flowers, removed from the earth and floating on a table in a glass vase like a magician’s assistant. These are not generic bunches of roses, but specific ones that I bought and drew individually and arranged into bouquets on the computer.
The titles of the bouquet prints come from, Conor Oberest’s song, “Time Forgot.”
Ivy crawls up the garden wall
Builds a ladder towards the sun
can’t be climbed but who’s gonna mind
If I claim it can be done
And the sun goes down
and the stars come out
the distance that I felt I could see it for myself now
There is a tension in the song that resonates with this work. The protagonist bristles at mortality, longs for the transcendental, and is uncomfortable with both. Flowers are cut for the happiest or saddest of occasions. Bouquets are given for their simple beauty, or as stand-ins for ineffable emotions. Rose Parade wrestles with this unsettled place between the sublime and the ordinary, the natural and the made.