Various Small Fires is pleased to present Chicago-based artist Will Gabaldón’s debut presentation in Asia. All out beyond horizon, the artist’s second solo exhibition with VSF, will showcase twelve new landscape paintings drawn from both real life and memory. The pastoral scenes are simultaneous representations of real places and manifestations of what the artist refers to as "atmospheres left in memory." Reminiscent of his first solo show with VSF held earlier this year in Los Angeles, Gabaldón continues his practice of depicting rural environments with the blowing trees, immaculate grass fields, muted violet and blue skies that oscillate between the figurative and abstract.
Similar to his recent LA show This must be the place, an eponymous funky score of Talking Heads' title song from their 1983 album, the current show also draws its title from the lyrics of The Crane Wife 3 by The Decemberists. Despite the lack of a seemingly direct correlation between the pastoral landscape and pop culture, it plays a crucial element in grasping the general sentiment of the imagined landscapes brought back from memory. Along with the alternative and punk rock music that accompanied the artist, his inspirations are drawn from both figurative and abstract works from various periods. For instance, the simplified forms remind the viewer of the spatial simplicity of Alex Katz's flattened figures and landscapes, whereas the eerily quiet soberness recalls Balthus' uncanny composition of architecture and its surrounding nature. Simultaneously, Gabaldon's acute attention to the painting surface recalls Robert Ryman's white-on-white monochrome paintings that focus less on creating illusions but more on the materiality of the surface.
For his first exhibition in Seoul, Gabaldón has changed his scenery in terms of dimensions and color palette. Compared to his earlier smaller works, with a modest dimension of 12 x 12 inch window-like white frames, his new body of works hold the particular ambiance of en plein air paintings. Following the enlarged size, the scope of each scenery has also broadened. The addition of the Prussian blue, drawn from his inspiration from Hokusai, to the previously muted palette has changed the undertone of his usual verdant scenery. The addition of this pigment is especially evident in Moon and Trees, in which the artist also added the full moon, a rare element in his works indicative of a specific time of the day.
Despite the changes in size and colors added to his fresh batch of paintings, the bold brushstrokes are still a significant element of Gabaldon's remembered and invented landscapes. Described as the "rhythm of brushstrokes" in the artist's words, they lead the eyes to sway back and forth across the surface, creating a sense of palpable energy in the silent scenes.
Will Gabaldón (b. 1978 Belen, New Mexico, lives and works in Chicago) received his B.F.A. in painting from the University of New Mexico and his M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to moving to Chicago, he lived and worked in Brooklyn. While living in New York City, he was a painting assistant for Jeff Koons, founding member of the artist run exhibition space TSA Gallery and was actively exhibiting work in many group exhibitions in New York. He has held solo exhibitions at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles; TSA Gallery, Brooklyn, New York; and Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Recent group exhibitions include Venus Over Manhattan, New York; Ackerman Clarke at NADA Miami, Florida; Sanitary Tortilla Factory, Albuquerque, New Mexico; He currently lives and paints in Chicago, Illinois with his wife and two daughters.