Providence College Galleries (PC–G) presents A Dialogue on Distortion, an exhibition that brings together Graham McDougal and Bayne Peterson, two artists whose making methodologies distort, exaggerate and expressionistically manipulate fabrication processes. This joint presentation features dozens of new and recent works, most of which have been created specifically for this show to emphasize the formal and conceptual commonalities of artists working in different dimensions and with drastically different materials.
Graham McDougal’s silkscreens are as much paintings as they are prints, as much representational as they are abstract. Beginning with a few selections of text-based imagery from vintage art and design journals, the artist puts his source material through a series of mutations. Among other trials, he crops, scans, photocopies, digitally alters, combines, prints, and tweaks by hand the imagery’s most minute details to create dizzyingly complex compositions. The final artworks bear some resemblance to their visual origins but teeter on the edge of abstracted oblivion. And ultimately, a paradoxical tension is created within the artworks: while each piece is unique because of McDougal’s irreproducible process, its formation depends so much on fine and commercial art tools intended for near-perfect reproduction.
These silkscreens share a sensibility with the sculptures of Bayne Peterson, who combines biomorphic abstraction with layers of hard-edged geometric patterning. In his signature dyed-plywood sculptures, form and ornamentation link inextricably, with topographical bands of color mapping the structural components of underlying shapes derived from disparate references, ranging from indigenous art to Modernist figuration and digital rendering templates. However, in contrast to McDougal’s initial appropriation of found imagery, Peterson often replicates his own work. For this exhibition, the artist presents works made as recently as early 2017 alongside newly constructed, warped versions of themselves realized in different materials and surface treatments. Peterson’s display also includes an ambitious commission—a scaled-up, four-by-five foot version of a recent table-top sculpture inspired by various still-life traditions.
Although this show altogether displays bodies of work by McDougal and Peterson, it also presents each artist’s practice as separate and distinct. The artists have not collaborated; rather, the connections reside in their similar abilities to blur, shift and distort the lines between fine art and conceptual craft, the historical and new, the handmade and digitally output, the gestural and mechanical, the practical and experimental… the list of dichotomies goes on in this dialogue on distortion.
Graham McDougal was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1976, and, after living in Providence for three years, now lives in Sacramento and works in Davis, California. His work has been exhibited recently at Regina Rex, NY, Firstdraft and KNULP, in Sydney and Outside Gallery, North Adams, MA. His prints and multiples have been included in projects at the Print Center Philadelphia, Printed Matter Inc. and Picture Room, NY. He has received grants from the Scottish International Education Trust, New York Foundation for the Arts and Cornell Council for the Arts. He has participated as an artist in the Nesnadny + Schwartz Visiting Curator Program, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland, and residencies at the Byrdcliffe Art Colony, Woodstock, NY and Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA. McDougal studied at Cumbria College of Art and Design and at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland, before earning a MFA at Southern Illinois University. He is an assistant professor of art at the University of California Davis.
Bayne Peterson was born in Palo Alto, California, in 1984, and lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. His work has been exhibited during the past year in Abstraction in Art Since 1950: Modern and Contemporary Selections from the Collection at RISD Museum, Providence; Underlying System is Not Known at Western Exhibitions, Chicago; and Psychedelic Providence at Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Chicago, and within a two-artist presentation for Kristen Lorello Gallery at NADA Miami Beach. Peterson received a BA from Vassar College and a MFA in sculpture from the Rhode Island School of Design. His work is included in the collection of the RISD Museum.
A Dialogue on Distortion is organized by Jamilee Lacy, PC–G Director & Curator.