UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum presents ART FOR ART'S SAKE: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation

Ali Smith "Half-Life" 2007 oil on canvas 84 x 130 in.
Jan. 27, 2014

UNLV Marjorie Barrick Museum presents ART FOR ART'S SAKE: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation January 30 - April 26, with an opening reception January 30, 6:30pm-8:30pm that is free and open to the public. This exhibition features work by young, mostly American, artists who explore the potential of abstraction. Using the basic elements of pictorial art -- color, line, shape, texture -- they produce bold, exuberant compositions that appeal foremost to the eye. Most of the work was produced in the last 20 years, a cultural era dominated by the labyrinth of images on the Internet. In order to compete with this continual barrage of pictorial stimulation, these artists chose to tackle it head-on, creating works that confront the viewer with a complex field of visual information. Their art is complicated, convoluted, and opulent -- never sedate and always surprising. 

The title of the exhibition, "Art for Art's Sake," was an idea that was first addressed by French Romantics in the 1830s and became the rallying cry for the English Aesthetic movement of the late 19th century. Proponents, such as James McNeill Whistler, believed that art should avoid secondary goals, such as narrative, and focus foremost on visual beauty. This idea that art must emphasize pure pictorial qualities led a few decades later to the rise of abstract painting. The artists in this exhibition expand upon the myriad conventions of modern art to create lush, provocative works that reveal an interest in subjective, transcendental, and visionary experience. 

Los Angeles artist Brian Porray creates large-scale works that resemble psychedelic landscapes filled with broken but radiant technological assemblages. (\DARKHORSE/) is a monumental painting inspired by the impressive but ominous Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. He recalled seeing the bright beam of light projecting upwards from the black pyramid and feeling terrified. In response, he created a "techno-futuristic" image in which triangles repeat endlessly in dazzling but disorienting colors and patterns to reflect his interest in scientific systems and altered states of consciousness. 

Ali Smith applies paint in a bold, virtuosic manner, producing surfaces that vary between being controlled and impetuous. She likes to "use paint almost sculpturally, as it starts to embody physical objects." Her art addresses the consistent theme of contradiction/paradox, whether she uses "bright, happy colors that revel in their garish, toxic nature or the very materiality of the paint that is both repellent and enticing." Her canvases are dense with paint and saturated with intense color. 

Iva Gueorguieva is a Los Angeles artist who creates seemingly chaotic paintings that actually evolve from her use of distinct processes that range from personal thoughts to philosophical concepts. Her painting Clinamen is inspired by the word the ancient philosopher Lucretius gave to the unpredictable movement of atoms. The artist sees such forces as key to the modern experience that involves such dualities as "construction and collapse, pulse and arrest, violent energy and meditative exactitude." 

These contemporary artists are diverse, but they are united in their use of both objective systems and subjective feelings to create art that celebrates sumptuous beauty and pure visual effects. 

This exhibition is curated by Billie Milam Weisman, director of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation. 

Funding has been provided by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation.