Thursday, September 20, 2012

JAMES WELLING: Overflow at David Zwirner

Overflow showcases three bodies of work that explore the impact of painting on both the content and process of James Welling’s photographic practice. Wyeth depicts the home, studio, and subjects of Andrew Wyeth, whose work influenced Welling early in his career. Welling digitally sampled color from those images for Fluid Dynamics, which consists of large abstract prints created by exposing wet photo paper to light. Finally, the smaller black and white photograms of the series Frolic Architecture were created by painting onto mylar, then creating photographic contact prints from the paintings.

Wyeth includes Glass House, an almost monochromatic image of two frost-covered windows in the corner of a white room, the paint on their frames peeling. This image is particularly stark, but the other photos in Wyeth have a similar sense of emptiness; the series works to depict something that is no longer there. In contrast, the stunning purple and green swirls of FD1M burst off of the wall, and the bright energy throughout Fluid Dynamics belies the subdued source of the color. Though quieter, the black and white images of Frolic Architecture take this transformation even further, giving painterly form a life of its own. Welling takes a thread of influence from Wyeth and spins it into entirely new creations, giving us insight into his personal artistic development while sketching a new paradigm of the pictorial.


  1. You have a strong opening paragraph, giving the reader a clear idea about the overall exhibition - subject matters, artist’s intention, materials and techniques, and a bit installation view - comprehensive and precise. I like the idea of comparing "Wyeth" to Walker Evans’ works, however, you may consider cutting it short given we have only 225 words. Instead, I’d like to see more elaboration on "Frolic Architecture" especially in which way are they “particularly compelling” to you. Also I’m interested to know what’s the relationship between the three bodies on view (or are they related at all). It’s great that you conclude the writing with your assessment on the exhibition, adding to the clearness of your structure. Overall I think this is very well written, good job!

  2. Well written with a strong selection of images. You do a good job of drawing the reader in with a clear, concise first paragraph. I would have to agree with Meng Jin, though, about the inclusion of the comparison to Walker Evans. It may be more beneficial to your reader if you left that out in favor of expanding upon other ideas, for example, why you found Frolic Architecture compelling and what exactly makes some works more engaging than others. I also would have liked to see you analyze more fully what you brought up in your first paragraph – how exactly these bodies of work explore a relationship with painting.