MAY 12 - July 01, 2017

Ruben Nusz: B.C.

With B.C., Ruben Nusz continues his exploration of the relativistic qualities found in color theory. The exhibition, featuring seventeen paintings on plaster and six oil pastel drawings, introduces a new 'fresco-secco' technique that updates the long history of painting on plaster.

The paintings are made first by creating a silicone mold of a blank stretched and primed canvas. Next, plaster is poured into the mold to cast a trompe l'oeil copy. Then the artist shatters the plaster "canvas" into pieces, allowing random forces to begin the composition, a gesture that echoes early 20th century Dadaist ideas. He then scores the back of certain fragments and breaks the plaster further, guided by a hand-drawn digital composition. The final step in the process involves painting each individual broken section with acrylic and gluing the whole "painting" back together again. The finished work appears to be a conflation of hard edge color-field abstraction with distortions of two and three-dimensional space that feel both exciting and contradictory.

Though the work is not intended to be overtly political, it is easy to read the paintings as pigmented manifestations of our current, fractured moment in politics. According to the artist, "Today, even our paintings are broken."

For Nusz, the work also addresses themes of resurrection, entropy and histories of culture and painting. According to the artist, "Painting exists outside of the constraints of time. As a medium it functions as a resonance in time. We could formulate a history of painting linearly, but that history would be inaccurate and incomplete, for it fails to account for cultures and ways of thinking that refuse to view time as a straight line." This nonlinear framework helps to define the title of the exhibition that, according to the artist, cannot be concretely explained. B.C. could stand for Broken Chroma, as the paintings represent color (and its underlying theory) fractured like breaks in a concrete sidewalk.

Or B.C. might refer to the term used in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, Before Christ. Although the phrase B.C.E. (Before Common Era) is typically used today, for a long period in Western history, the calendar revolved around the birth of Jesus Christ. Nusz seems intent on pointing to a way of painting before or even outside of the walls of both time and Christian painting.

And while it is the Christian religious painters Giotto and Fra Angelico (14th and 15th Centuries, respectively) who are often credited as the fathers of this method, examples of fresco painting have been dated to thousands of years before Christ in cultures across the globe. These ancient, cracked paintings on plaster (from North Africa and Greece to India and China) have provided the most inspiration for Nusz as he retools fresco painting, color theory and history for viewers in a multicultural 21st century.

For further information, please contact Leslie Hammons, Director, at 612-822-1722 or