x ways to improve your y
28 September — 17 November 2012
Kunstraum is pleased to present its inaugural exhibition, ‘x ways to improve your y’, a solo exhibition by Jason Coburn, the Rotterdam-based artist, curator, writer and DJ.
The two large-scale works produced for ‘x ways to improve your y’ include ‘Atomizer – Lustrous (Red)’, 2012, a 3.5 meter diameter visual representation of particles exploding out from a central point, formed from strips of paper with a specially designed embossed foil pattern. The second work, ‘Spaced Out’, is an intricate wall drawing utilising a 19th century ornamental typeface by Henri-Désiré Porret which was meticulously restored by Coburn
and arranged to form the words ‘Spaced Out’, a word play on the spacing of the letters themselves and a term used to describe confusion, disorientation or intoxication.
Throughout ‘x ways to improve your y’ Coburn explores underlying systems common to the histories of music, visual art and graphic design. A theme running through Coburn’s works is an endeavour to establish relationships between things which are otherwise perceived to be unconnected or in contradiction: In ‘Spaced Out’, 2012, Coburn highlights the supposed oppositions between rationality on the one hand and creativity, intuition, extravagance and controlled substances on the other. The video work, ‘The Etcetera Principle’, 2011, is an audiovisual essay tracing the theme of the optical perception of pattern through an unlikely selection of examples from the history of visual art and design. ‘Atomizer – Lustrous (Red)’, 2012, creates a narrative on painting from abstraction to graffiti and back again, and draws from a fascination with optical effects that cause humans to perceive pattern where there is chaos, and chaos where there is pattern.
Within the works in ‘x ways to improve your y’, ideas ‘sampled’ from outside of visual art are combined and compressed into one another, questioning the traditional hierarchy of art forms. The exhibition is punctuated by a new series of works on paper that utilise media that sit in this grey zone between high and low art. The prints are made using a Risograph printer, a hybrid between a screen-printing bed and a Xerox machine, but the frames and works have been defaced or effaced by spray paint, in some places using the loose approach of an urban tagger, in others utilising the services of a professional spray shop.
The techniques Coburn uses throughout are defined by a collision of forms, materials, processes and ideas from outside of visual art. A half-tone pattern used in printing is illusionistic but the means of the illusion are never disguised. Coburn’s use of print finishing methods has something of the same openness: the materials and techniques introduce layers of complexity, without pretending to be other than what they are.