Marfa-based painter Dustin Pevey presented an exhibition of his paintings and photographs at the Marfa Book Co from August 1st through September 1st. Several of the paintings are pictured below:
We've admired Dustin Pevey's paintings and photo-collages for several years, and considering how small this town is, had a pretty clear idea of what this exhibition would include. However, we were considerably surprised by some of the new aspects in Dustin's work, especially the paintings, some of which were made in the two or three weeks leading up to the exhibition. For example, he has decided to include a lot more sand and granular material in the paint as several of these canvases demonstrated. There is also a more integrated, and therefore less legible, combination of digitally printed and manually painted surfaces in some of the others. This second aspect was particularly powerful in a painting whose unifying element was a checkerboard whose black rectangles were the product of both digital and manual methods, although it required a close view of the surface before this fact became clear.
Not all of the paintings were totally unforeseeable choices, however. The painting above is an example of Pevey's collage method, something that characterizes much of his work for the past year or two. Here, various fabrics, some commercially printed, others printed by the artist have been attached to an already painted surface and then further painted or treated in a variety of ways to make the final work. The text, "future drugs," for instance, was spray painted on the surface at some point and then covered by other tiles of fabric, some of which began as photographs that were then treated and later printed out.
Another, and certainly the most talked about, change in Pevey's work was the decision to use thin wire mesh screen as the surface of several paintings. This somewhat strange barnyard choice provided more than a gridded texture to the paintings, however. Rather then applying paint with a brush or other instrument to the surface of the stretched wire-mesh as-is, Pevey painted from behind the surface, through the mesh, to give the paintings a kind of uneven, primitively digital character. In some places, Pevey blocked the paint from passing through the mesh by applying tape to the front side of the screen. I thought of Mark Flood's lace paintings in this regard, but there's also something divergent from Flood's and other stencil-styled work here. As is evident in the image above, when looking at these paintings from a distance of a few feet, the tactility isn't visible, neither do the works look stenciled. On a closer examination, the surfaces become undulant and more alluring. Closer still, however, there's a moment when they can become nasty, or even scatological. This can't be said for all of the paintings of this sort, but it can be said for many of them. Strangely, it's precisely this disregard of beauty, or a particular idea of beauty, that makes these paintings so interesting. Perhaps it's because, in this way, Pevey makes a curious play of elegance and squalor, where squalor seems the more persistent, and simultaneously the more grounded term. Other paintings in the exhibition, such as the two pictured below, demonstrate that he still knows how to make very good work with a minimal number of movements. This is, after all, the man who claims to have recorded the vocals for his band Past Life Billionaires while lying in bed.