Joe Reihsen's 'Structural Color' @The Hole

Contemporary art gallery in the Lower East Side, The Hole saw its second solo exhibit with Joe Reihsen open on March 8. Titled Structural Color, Reihsen is known for pioneering a new way of painting in the abstract. Structural colouration is a phenomenon derived from the animal world; the production of color via microscopically structured surfaces fine enough to interfere with visible light, while still appearing smooth. We see this in peacock’s feathers, which are pigmented brown, but their microscopic structure makes them also reflect blue, turquoise, and green light. Just in this way, Reihsen’s new works glow and ripple with a color palette that is natural and almost neon all at once. The way the artist produces these paintings makes them seem intensely textural, their surface almost wet and creased with color - yet completely smooth. Reihsen is a master of texture, creating in these new works an illusion of depth and a metallic quality, just like the structural color of a peacock feather or butterfly wing.

 Joe Reihsen -  g2789 , 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

Joe Reihsen - g2789, 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

 Joe Reihsen -  g2796 , 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

Joe Reihsen - g2796, 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

Just as with his earlier works that were on show at The Hole in 2016, Reihsen once again invents a new way of abstract painterly production. His earlier paintings explored the technique of painting brushstrokes on plastic before peeling them off and transferring them to a painted surface. These new works are created also by transferring paint from one surface to another via plastic, but now appear more like a mono-print. 

From his earliest experiments with art, the artist has introduced aspects of the digital realm into his newer works; combining traditional physical production with digital influences, while still finding his footing in earlier painterly traditions. ‘I think of my work more in the tradition of Abstract Expressionism than anything that takes the internet or digital technology as a core starting point’, he recently told Artnet in an interview. 

 Joe Reihsen -  g2798 , 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

Joe Reihsen - g2798, 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

 Joe Reihsen -  g2799 , 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

Joe Reihsen - g2799, 2018, acrylic on canvas over panel with brass frame, 60 x 48 in, 152 x 122cm. Image courtesy The Hole.

The surfaces seem worked - scraped, torn, scribbled. Many of the pieces - especially the larger, 12ft works - require substantial physical exertion, and even armatures. However, the artist does not have precise control over the color combinations, as the compositions aren’t visible during the production process. ‘A lot of where the developments in my work happen is when I embrace something that happened unintentionally’, the artist explains.

A Minnesota native, Reihsen credits his move to Los Angeles for his bright color palette.  This is the artist’s second solo exhibit at The Hole, and he has also received significant attention abroad, including solo shows at Praz-Delavallade in Paris, Vedovi in Brussels, and Anat Ebgi in Los Angeles. His works have also been included in a host of group shows around the world. 

Words by Polina Gordovich

 

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Citations from an interview with Artnet