Shake Shack Guggenheim
An exhibition by Ethan Cook and Landon Metz

It is a great pleasure to introduce Shake Shack Guggenheim - the first double exhibition in Europe by the two New York based artists Ethan Cook and Landon Metz. The two artists work with an individual idiom, but form an alliance in innovation and play with formal conventions. Thus the exhibition feels like a conversation. A curious and engaged conversation about abstract painting, artistic practice and art.

For the exhibition Ethan Cook has created 3 large-scale (152 x 205 cm) sparse abstract works composed from a mixture of self-woven canvas and prefabricated canvas, framed with artist made frames. Cook weaves his own canvas on a large four-harness floor loom, he manually weaves predyed cotton and linen fibers into a “plain weave”, the same simple weave known from traditional canvases. It is a tedious, meticulous and almost hypnotic process in which the canvas progress line by line. It takes a week for Cook to create a monochrome canvas of 1 x 6 meters. Cook then cuts the canvas and joins the hand crafted dyed canvas with the prefabricated raw canvas in minimal geometric compositions. Creating a painting, without paint, where the canvas is both medium and subject. Compositionally Cook works with and against formal and minimalist traditions, drawing on references from both American and European schools. Hidden in the minimal, almost subliminal, works are traces of rupture, flaws from the handcrafted process, tension from the pull of the different canvas types. A quiet intimate riot is revealed on closer inspection. Ethan Cook’s new paintings fuse process and intent, their transparency make them vital and contemplative.

Landon Metz created nine new abstract works for Shake Shack Guggenheim. Metz’s new series of minimal abstract paintings are created by pouring pigmented liquid dye directly on to unprimed canvas. The process is difficult to master as the thin dye merge with the raw canvas, eliminating the traditional material duality of painterly practice, foreground, paint, and background, canvas. Through experimentation, Metz has crafted a technique where he, either by using his hands or sponges, guide the dye into the threads of the canvas. Over the last year he has mastered this process to a level that allow for repetition of forms in this new body of work. As subtle factors such as the positioning of the canvas, humidity and heat play into the process, the idea of creating a series of identical canvases is bound to fail. One suspects that Metz finds exactly this dilemma alluring in the nine new paintings that are divided into 3 series of 3. The paintings appear very similar but small shifts in hue and form sets them radically apart. Landon Metz has created a curious painterly practice, without using paint, where medium and practice consolidate. The works are aesthetically seductive and intellectually engaging.

Let’s talk about painting. Shake Shack Guggenheim opens for a discussion of the potential of abstract painting. Do we really need another abstract painting in 2013? I don’t believe Ethan Cook or Landon Metz set out to answer or justify this question. They are engaged in something as rare as an earnest abstract practice and dialogue. Well informed and curious, the pair merges craft and strategy, creating work full of potential.

Ethan Cook (Born 1983, Texas, USA. Lives and works in New York, USA) has recently exhibited with Rod Barton, London, England, Jeanroch Dard, Paris, France and Ana Cristea Gallery in New York, USA.

Landon Metz (Born 1985, Phoenix, USA. Lives and works in New York, USA). He has recently exhibited with Torri, Paris, France, Preeteen Gallery, Mexico City, Mexico and Cooper Cole, Toronto, Canada.