Peter Soriano: “3 murals and related drawings”

at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc.

Installation view, 2016, Peter Soriano, “3 Murals and Related Drawings”
Photo: courtesy Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., NY

Peter Soriano first came to public note as a sculptor in the early Nineties. He fashioned brightly colored, whimsically shaped cast-resin constructions that rested on the floor. Since then he has gone on a journey that has taken him through installations to his current practice of large-scale wall drawings. His preceding 2013 show at Lennon Weinberg was the first to eschew the pipes and cables that populated the installations, but it included much of the same wall marks, including spray paint, taped lines, and masked-off areas to create resists. What has changed in Soriano’s striking new show is a dramatic expansion in the formal vocabulary of the “notations,” which in this case look like gigantic staff lines and circles ricocheting off of each other. In addition, the coordination between these elements has gotten much more ambitious, providing a richer array of correspondences between murals. Yet the subversive whimsy, not unlike Elizabeth Murray’s, that animated his earliest works remains, but in a much more conceptual way, which makes it all the more subversive. To see that requires an understanding of the intention behind the notations.

Beat-up Subject (2016), on the west wall of the gallery, is a series of red and blue lines that dance in a jagged rhythm across its length. Coming off of each line is a box label that gives a time/date stamp. These lines are evidently renderings of shadows cast by his house in Maine during specific times of the day during a three-day period this past July. How Soriano captured these lines is not clear, but what is clear is that he has attempted to capture something evanescent about a particular object in space, i.e. his house, in its relationship to light. Effectively, Soriano gives a set of personal memories life, but couches them in the guise of quasi-objective rigor-the time stamps, the sharp precision of the lines. He even goes so far as to score Beat-up Subject and his other wall pieces with a set of instructions ˆ la Sol LeWitt, so that others can reproduce them with reasonable accuracy. Unlike LeWitt, these works are never what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Soriano’s subjectivity is always present, and indeed forms the axis around which all these brightly colored designs revolve. Here is the whimsical part: clearly there is a sensibility, and a very fine one, at work, but his motivations are as inscrutable today as they were when his sculptures came on the scene. And that, in this age of over-exposure in every sense of the word, is a very good thing.