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81 Leonard Gallery opens John Weiner's first solo exhibition in New York
John Weiner, Strategy, 2015 - 2019, Oil paint and acrylic paint on canvas wrapped to
panel, 48" x 72", Courtesy of the artist.

NEW YORK, NY.- 81 Leonard Gallery is presenting John Weiner: if Six was 9, on view from June 3rd through July 30th, 2021. The artist’s first solo exhibition in New York features recent paintings and site-specific installations.

There is a widely held romantic notion that art expresses emotions which words simply cannot describe. John Weiner, however, proves that the use of logic can indeed break an emotion down into a sum of simple parts. Color, line, form—these are the basic elements of our visual atmosphere; from these elements the world around us takes the shape of buildings, billboards, logos, and language. Drawing inspiration from advertising, Constructivist theory, and his own experience writing graffiti, John Weiner’s abstract paintings present a visual investigation into the urgency and efficiency of human communication as well as the capacity of painting to simultaneously capture a moment and create one.

Straying away from highly chromatic paints straight from the tube, the artist’s color palette reflects an interest in the post-production state of objects subject to weather and wear-and-tear. His earthy colors are reminiscent of tread-upon sidewalk art and primitive cave paintings, both of which contextualize his work within a larger history of visual communication. Weiner plays with the installation of his paintings, poking fun at the notion that Painting today suggests a perfectly rectangular canvas rather than raw, unrefined earth. The cut corner of the almost-rectangular painting “Empty Eyes; Screenshot” nods explicitly to this notion, along with paintings sitting on shelves and leaning on wooden posts. Like street art and cave paintings, Weiner’s paintings merge with their environments, drawing us into an experience beyond looking, and orienting us in space. “You are here,” they whisper, and here is just as crucial as the painting itself.

The human instinct to communicate is also explored through the use of symbols and geometric shapes, serving as a representation of language rather than as coded messages. Through this insertion of arbitrary symbols, Weiner’s paintings both embrace and push back against modernist abstraction, which ideologically rejects meaning and literal readings. With an understanding that meaning cannot be stripped from a recognizable symbol, Weiner calls attention to the act of recognition, the moment at which simple combinations of line and shape become language, a universal one at that.

The installation tactics and use of symbol offer a contemporary exploration of semiotics and the reproducible image, highlighting the multiplicities of meaning inherent in both verbal and visual communication, which is further complicated by globalization and the digital age. “Strategy” rests on wooden posts against the wall opposite “Four Square,” which is similarly mounted on posts; though, the latter set of posts appear in a flat, printed image rather than wood. The printed vinyl on view from the street windows points to impersonal storefront advertising, while the printed text referencing the “Memories” on our iPhones suggests we are constantly and highly susceptible to carefully crafted messages coming from our own personal devices. We are walking around with big business in our pockets, but we couldn’t be bothered. Look, that red hue is gorgeous.

John Weiner holds a BFA in Painting from the Pratt Institute (New York, USA) and an MFA from TransArt Institute (Berlin, Germany) and the University of Plymouth (Plymouth, UK). Born in Coney Island Hospital. Raised in Brooklyn, New York. And, still here.

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