“Sleep is the last ungentrified neighborhood”
Blake Rayne has exhibited his work throughout the United States and Europe for the last 15 years. Since the mid-1990’s Rayne’s work has contributed to transformations in the field of art, and specifically painting, primarily through his consistent and varied approaches to putting pressure on what counts as painting. His work is included in various public collections, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He has taught extensively over the last ten years, including, most recently, as Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at Columbia University, NY. Recent solo exhibitions include “Wild Country” at Campoli Presti in 2012, and, opening on Friday September 28 at 1301PE in Los Angeles, a solo exhibition of new paintings.
Description, (alongside argumentation, exposition, and narration) is one of the four modalities of rhetoric: a familiar, even sedate concept. But within the ongoing crisis of critical artistic practice, it is a concept that has recently become embroiled in deeply contentious arguments: polemically posed above and against the Modern practices of critical analysis in the work of someone like Bruno Latour. Within Rayne’s practice, description is an unruly affair too (making texts like this one a difficult proposition):
One way to approach Blake Rayne’s second solo exhibition at Miguel Abreu Gallery is to unpack two concepts which have long dominated his thinking about art and culture in general: cultural abstraction and scripts. He himself offered what must be considered his most explicit description of the latter term in a press release that was available only for the first few days of the exhibition prior to being replaced by a subsequent revision.
“Select a fabric,” “Cut to size,” “Mark off the pictorial space,” “Fold. Paint. Unfold.” “Re-hang,” “Reconfigure,” “Sew. Stretch. Mark again. Crate. Ship. Place in the gallery. Unpack it or not … Hang it or not … Sell it or not …”.
A script, considered as a noun, is familiar enough as a stage in cultural production underlying the realization of a performative event, theatrical, or cinematic, or a set of formalized instructions in the realm of conceptual art. The idea of script in Rayne’s work carries its productive moment over from the preparatory stage, refusing to relinquish its verb form and its ossification into the static form of the noun.
— Sarina Basta, Cut Pieces, Texte zur Kunst #70, May 2008
Rayne himself refers to two scripts he encountered while studying at CalArts in the 1990s frequently enough that we can consider them formative – we can axiomatically reduce them to the propositions that institutional structures might be subjected to work by the subject, and that the subject might be structured by work by structures. And with what Rayne analyzed as the disappearance of appropriate platforms for experimental film, Rayne turned to what he describes as the hysteric practice of painting.
Rayne’s practice subsequently takes its distance from the dominant positions of the 1990s and 2000s, (between neo-institutional critique’s progressive impulse to make the institution better, and the various forms of negotiated complicity in relational aesthetics). Suspended between two critical procedures that could no longer be inhabited, Rayne has preferred instead to throw a little light into dark corners and invest in cataloging processes of deflation, assisted by anything from histories of art, cinema, psychoanalysis or linguistics, post-punk anger music, B-sides, and sleep, all while reviving performative strategies of “saying no.”
Johanna Burton on Blake Rayne
Sarina Basta on Blake Rayne
Blake Rayne at 1301PE
Pedro Morais on Blake Rayne: link to