Davidson Gallery proudly presents Verso, a solo exhibition of new work by Sam Messenger. In this, Messenger’s seventh one-man show with Davidson, the artist eschews the predominately greyscale pen-and-ink drawings for which he is renowned in favor of acrylic paint and pigment on paper and fabric.
In place of his usual generative mark-making, Messenger creates this new body of work in a wholly new method. He lays polythene sheeting down, manipulating it with creases and wrinkles before adding a layer of paint. He then places the paper face down on the pigment he has just added, allowing it to dry before peeling away the paper and laying it aside. This process is repeated, one color at a time, until the work is finished.
In each case, Messenger can affect only a limited number of factors: the manipulation of the sheet, the color of the paint on it, and the drying time. After that, the only hand that he can have in the work is from the verso side. This back-to-front methodology draws on art historical styles and means of production, including Byzantine glass painting, European paper making, Tachisme, décollage, and even printmaking.
Presented on both floors of Davidson Gallery, this new work is a definite departure for Messenger, but it is also clearly extant along the arc of his oeuvre, allowing elements of chance, nature, and randomness to help drive – or perhaps contend with – the artist’s intent. Verso is accompanied by a full catalogue of the exhibition with an introductory essay by Frances Jacobus-Parker