By Sharsten Plenge
What is after in the age of the image? What follows in a model predicated by post-net culture? What comes “after after” is the object and subject dismantled within post-post— Christian Eckart’s solo show and LA debut standing in its final days at Wilding Cran Gallery.
Central to this question lies The Absurd Vehicle. Described by Eckart as a “painting with an identity crisis,” the work is as colossal in spatial enormity as in philosophical evocation. A sculpture. A vessel. A time machine. An image born from looking at upside-down Rodney Graham trees. A product whose title is meant to be literal— stemming from a continual draw on the “absurdity of the utility of painting.” At first sight, this glistening elliptic void protrudes from a shell perched atop a 16-wheel axle like a modular tree— so it’s interesting to learn this piece was conceived as a site-specific installation for a collector’s Baroque garden… that is until the wife decided she’d rather not have this chthonic creature bearing a purple-orange ombre as a landscape centerpiece.
Ultimately, that’s our gain because The Absurd Vehicle is the linking oracle here— a continuum— where “the rhetoric of the fake” is rejected to extend Eckart’s ongoing search for the “rhetoric of the real.” Straying from ideologies [still] redundantly simulated in the surfaces of fellow contemporaries who also first gained prominence in the 80’s New York scene— like Julian Schnabel and Peter Halley— Eckart rejected the notion that painting was dead; instead approaching the medium as a malleable plane for communicating the “meta-sublime” and the sacred.
“Taking the hand out” permeates Eckart’s industrial process and sensibility. Applying a post-internet approach, Eckart deletes the presence of an author allowing us to submit completely to the autonomy and possibility of the object. Mediated through a machine, Eckart “deploys a kind of meta-painting” as a way to reveal the “software undergirding the concept of ‘Art’ itself.”
A variation of Cloud Room Field— his recently completed 60 ft. commission for Houston’s Hobby Airport— Dichroic Glass Field identifies the natural within the artificial. An object in constant flux, light shifts through a webbing of refraction, producing an image that is never the same. Mesmerized in an individualized encounter, Eckart deploys the ability for an object to elicit the sensation of immersion. We transcend architectures without having to mobilize walls.
Here, a glimpse of possibility is posited within the source of our viewing experience. Like the airport, the gallery model is an example of a quintessential non-place— the latter constituted through its dual negation of “space-based social function and the textuality of the artwork.” Through dislocating the source image— both by citing and recreating past work (the recent Limbus Painting diptych is based upon his White Painting series of the mid-80’s) and forging new hybrids for their presentation— Eckart alludes to a vision of art in a post-space: a proposal for how objects can continually shape their ontological status through constant rectification.