Concurrently, the gallery is pleased to present in its project space An Amulet that Natters: an exhibition of new paintings by Dallas-based artist Bret Slater, November 9 through December 22, 2012. There will be an opening reception Friday November 9, 6:00 – 8:00 PM.

Slater’s small-scale acrylic paintings seem to be breathing and looking back at the viewer, possessing an identity and soul of their own. Equally as objects, they may be viewed as charms, amulets, or ancient relics imbued with ritualistic magic powers that point toward non-specific universal traditions. Individually, the paintings appear as linguistic symbols of a forgotten vernacular, silently chanting incantations, each affecting and protecting their viewers differently.

Bret Slater (b. 1987 Bronx, NY) lives and works in Dallas, TX. Prior to this exhibition, he had solo exhibitions in 2011 and in the gallery’s project space in 2010, as well as solo exhibitions in Brussels and Dallas. His 2012 exhibition at Elaine Levy Gallery in Brussels was named one of the Best 100 Shows internationally by Modern Painters magazine, as was his show at Thomas Robertello Gallery last fall. The same publication also announced Slater as one of the Top Artists to Watch in 2011. He recently received the “Rising Star in Art” award by the Fashion Group International, Dallas, TX. His work has been acquired by the Dallas Museum of Art and will also enter the collection of the Indianapolis Museum of Art later this year.  

The excerpt below is from an article written by Michael Corris for FD Luxe — Dallas News:

Bret Slater descends from a long line of artists who make quirky little objects that look like paintings but are not. What does a painting look like, anyway? Is a painting necessarily a picture? Is it a sign or is it something in itself? Do we really need to worry about the distinction between a meaningful detail and a meaningless pattern? There is verisimilitude, there is abstraction, there is pattern and plan and there are a multitude of positions in between. Some of us just throw up our hands and call it an “image”. But even that label is ambiguous. Is it a symbol? An index? An icon? Why it matters what we call this thing before us is because part of the pleasure of looking and thinking about art is to be able to widen our horizons about what art can be. A new kind of object that looks like a painting-thingy is more interesting than a picture of the prairie at sundown. It’s more interesting because it is indeterminate: we don’t know what it means right off the bat, so we have to puzzle over it. Some of us enjoy a good puzzle. For those who do, Bret is your man. For those who don’t, Bret is your man, too.

How can this be? Well, it’s because Bret is a particular kind of artist who trades in ambiguity. Not every puzzle needs to be solved; sometimes it’s more fun to watch it hover like a cloud and pick out this shape and that and give it a name. In a moment, the cloud will morph and a whole new puzzle emerges. Bret catches sight of something — a plastic toy, a bit of office stationery, a cardboard packing box — or just thinks about something, and with that evocation a mystery is born. Not irreducibly mysterious, but just enough to tease. The gist of the thing is there, so it’s more or less recognizable, but something’s off. That looks like a detail of a spiral bound notebook, but the colors are psychedelic. Hey, this painting-thingy actually glows in the dark! What sort of infernal alchemy is this, matey? Look closer: it’s a colored surface, on a canvas ground, stretched over wooden stretcher bars. It’s gloopy and pitted; it looks poured. Here it looks gouged out, a relief; there it looks organic, all slithery and smooth. It’s got rounded edges; it seems to be breathing. It’s vaguely sci-fi in a J. G. Ballard sort of way. If it could talk it would be cast in a Cronenberg film. It’s smallish, mostly; medium sized dry goods. It hangs on a wall, and you’d like to talk to it. You look at it and it looks back at you. It’s good company, an amulet that natters. Sometimes we feel that a work of art has a “presence”. It seems to have a life of its own. This is not sheer madness or retrograde fetishism. We can anthropomorphize anything, just look at the man in the moon. Those two cut outs, they look like eyes. Hey, isn’t that Frank, the rabbit in Donnie Darko? What’s that I hear in the background? A Swedish heavy metal group, you say? What’s the connection? All those song titles as titles of these painting-thingies. Take an experience, an event, a person, and a relationship; place a song title on it. The association is fixed and that song becomes one of thousands of indelible soundtracks of a bit of your life. Neural networks have formed; a new puzzling architecture is made sensible, if only just. It’s not High Fidelity; it’s an existential way station. An outpost in a world gone mad. So what if the paintings are suffering an identity crisis. Whose art is it, anyway?

Press

D Magazine

Bret Slater

An Amulet that Natters
November 9 - December 22, 2012
Opens November 9, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Works

Dasehra

Bret Slater, Dasehra, 2012

Black Centipede

Bret Slater, Black Centipede, 2012

Lord of This World

Bret Slater, Lord of This World, 2012

Black Masses

Bret Slater, Black Masses, 2012

Antipodal Companion

Bret Slater, Antipodal Companion, 2012


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