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Jeff Depner's first solo New York exhibition opens at Nancy Margolis Gallery
Installation view of the exhibition.

NEW YORK, NY.- Nancy Margolis Gallery announced the opening of Jeff Depner’s first solo New York exhibition, Variations: Black Napkins, on October 24, 2013, and on view through December 7, 2013.

In his abstract acrylic paintings, Vancouver-based Depner explores compositional structure through the relationship between colors. His works’ painted layers create singular, functioning systems of interacting parts, yet juxtapositions permeate—between the architectonic and the organic, the graphic and the painterly, the matte and the opulent.

The exhibition’s series of Reconfigured Grid Paintings is immediately striking for its architectonic, geometric forms. According to the artist, architectural language and elements of graphic design inform these works and, indeed, Depner’s shapes are vaguely suggestive of A-frames, fencing and graphic lettering. The artist’s painting process both mimics and reinforces this architectural theme: thick, sometimes crunchy, impasto passages lend Depner’s paintings a real structural presence. At the same time, layers are made to interact with preceding layers so that the paintings’ textures, colors and forms are quite literally supported by what lies beneath.

Yet, a second look at these works reveals an equally prominent organic element. Expressive freehand passages, replete with painterly brushstrokes, scratches and drippings, surround—even intrude on—Depner’s hardedge geometric forms. While the works seem at first defined by precision, upon closer examination, Depner’s desire to unravel his own uniformity becomes clear. In spite of his repetition of color and form, Depner deftly places thick acrylic next to thin washes, glossy paint next to matte paint, and textured passages next to smooth ones.

In pitting the architectonic against the organic, the graphic against the painterly, Depner situates his work within an ongoing discourse on geometric abstraction, and the possibilities of painting at large. In fact, his works’ titles—especially his Reconfigured Grid Paintings—directly reference an interest in reinterpreting the art historical grid for the contemporary world. The artist’s list of influences—Diebenkorn, Guston, de Kooning, Gorchov, Ryman, Tuttle, Lasker, Picasso, and Halley—speaks to the depth and breadth of this interest.

While Depner’s color palette does draw from the work of these predecessors, his color choices are by and large intuitive: his flat, muted grays remind of industrial materials and paint colors, while his more vivid hues call to mind contemporary art and graphic design. In this, Depner adds to the contemporary thrust of his work, enabling him to create what he deems an ‘abstract sign’, intended to seize the viewer on an unconscious level.

Depner received his BFA in design and illustration from Capilano University, Vancouver, Canada and has shown widely across Canada and the United States. He first showed at Nancy Margolis Gallery in a group show, Cast Party, in spring 2013, to enthusiastic reception. In 2011 he was one of one hundred artists included in Rising – Young Artists To Keep An Eye On!, published by Daab books. His work has also been featured in several other publications and art blogs, including Artbox Magazine, Ruby Mag, The Globe and Mail, and Snap Magazine. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.

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