Birch Contemporary

Howard Podeswa: Still Life with Paper

Since the U.S. election, I’ve found it impossible to ignore the turmoil it has wrought; yet, with the onslaught of frightening newsfeeds, my reaction as an artist has been to retreat from overt narrative – an unexpected departure from the representationalism that characterized my work previously.  

The works in this exhibition were originally inspired by The Subway Therapy Project – an installation of Post-It notes, placed by commuters on a wall in New York’s Union Square subway station to express their feelings about the current state of affairs in the U.S. While initially drawn to the text of the messages, my attention gradually turned to the paper they were written on.  I began to explore their surfaces in paint, focusing on the small clues that distinguish them from abstract shapes and identify them as Stlll Lifes -  objects in space, whose very imperfections present a frozen snapshot of their makers.  I’ve removed the text from the resulting images in order to focus on these qualities but restored the messages in the works’ titles in order to preserve their authors’ original intent. Also included in this exhibition is “Lessons”, a series of oil studies of sheets of paper that have been bent and shaped according to the instructions laid out in an early 20th century art-instruction manual.