Friday, April 13, 2018

Avery Singer at Gavin Brown

Avery Singer’s Days of the Week (computer pain), at Gavin Brown’s enterprise in Harlem is an exhibition of airbrushed paintings of computer generated images. They address an ongoing issue within contemporary painting - in the age of the virtual, where the internet covers an expanse that is exponentially larger than our own tangible world, how do we make paintings? The methods Singer proposes are best exemplified in Kundry, a perplexing painting of a large, pink, seated figure holding a sword in gridded, 3D modeled space. Kundry is painstakingly airbrushed so as to mimic the appearance of a high-fidelity print from modeling software, but its qualities as a painting can be examined clearly upon closer inspection. There are areas where the paint has bled under taped borders between planes, and the varying directional reflective quality of different sections reveals that the image was rendered in stages with great care. The painting is an embrace of how the internet appears visually with the process of its mimicry on fully display. The magic of a mathematically generated picture is exposed in Kundry.

The most obvious part of Kundry is the grid. The grid places it solidly in a space where this art historical motif and computer rendering can meet. The title, Kundry, is perplexing, especially in relation to the large, sword-wielding, pink figure. Kundry, aside from being the work’s title, is a faux mythological figure invented by Wagner for his opera, Parsifal. She is a mysterious woman who is cursed after she laughed at Christ on the cross. In the opera, she is not a warrior or a king, let alone a victor. If we are to assume Singer is making reference to Wagner's Kundry, then there is a curious commentary on fabrication in relation to the figure, the regality of how she’s situated and her rendering. Singer has taken a fictional character, dramatically adjusted her position in her source narrative and placed her, victorious, in an impossible environment. The falseness of how Singer has portrayed Kundry is exemplified by the decision to paint her with such a close resemblance to how she might appear on a screen. It’s a twisted solution, the implication being that virtual space, in its removal from our exactitude, has the ability to adjust meaning or even truth. 


  1. I also found this painting to be rather striking and I appreciate your explanation of the title. I think having an image of the work would help your review make more sense as I am recalling the piece having very different characteristics. For example, a 3D modeling space does have a grid, but it is the infinite plane that is distinct as well. There was something confining about the space in the painting, the grid defined a set of walls. Singer’s other work more closely resembles a painting of a quick rendering of a platonic solid with different surface materials but those works seemed to be simply that, whereas I felt there was more going on in Kundry. It does more with the concept of painting computer generated images and I’m glad you focused in on that piece.

  2. Thanks for sharing some insight into the title of the work. Your interpretation of why that title was given was also fascinating. It compelled me to read a bit more about the character and discovered Kundry is presented differently throughout Wagners opera.
    Im curious about your comment about how the painting is an embrace of how the internet appears visually. It makes me wonder what i imagine visually when i think of the internet.