Alexander Berggruen opens an exhibition of recent paintings by Ted Gahl

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Alexander Berggruen opens an exhibition of recent paintings by Ted Gahl
Installation view.

NEW YORK, NY.- Ted Gahl’s recent paintings–created before and during his quarantine–capture loneliness, longing, and the granularity of the present moment. Abstracted figures and household objects are confined in compositions of cultural quarrel, but uplifted through the artist's lively exploration of color via energetic brushwork.

In Gahl’s 2020 Burning Chair, a thin flame rises into an active multi-colored sky. In other examples, shapes take on weight, wedging figures between them, as in the volumetric almond-like ovals in his 2020 Horizontal Study (Lamu Walk Under Stars).

In speaking about his process, Gahl noted: “I have always been interested in how imagery begins to shift. You work with it enough, and you see it transform into different formats that lead you into a new visual narrative.” Gahl paints from symbolic references such as mosquitoes, a figure waiting at a train station, tables, chairs, hammers, and nails. In the artist’s 2020 Quarrel Painting, a dark red hammer and a blue nail confront each other over a harsh, symmetrical compositional divide, perhaps conjoined by door hinges, as a rich black encroaches on the hammer’s red atmosphere. Here, the hammer and nail oppose one another in a way that captures America’s current cultural schism.

In Gahl’s Passenger series, his motif of a figure waiting on a seemingly deserted train-track varies based on the colors and directions of his brushwork. His 2020 Passenger (Bowling Green), portrays a peach sky in short, soft articulation, and a bright white train across the platform. Here, the blue-coated figure seems to watch with wanderlust and anticipation. Contrarily, Gahl’s 2020 Passenger (Beacon Falls at Night) depicts a covered figure on a dark train platform in which the long brushstrokes of the dark blue night sky and black train tracks seem instead to engulf the figure, allowing the figure to perhaps escape from the present moment.

In other cases, the artist renders warped furniture in conjunction with common objects, suggesting spaces of communion and stability, or a lack thereof. A tilting table amid a wildly growing garden patio confronts a row of three yellow houses in the distance in Gahl’s 2020 Table with Ghost Leg and Jungle Patio (Overlooking North Street).

Through the artist’s unique compositional weights of solemn mundane objects, Ted Gahl: Paintings presents an intimate and dynamic portrayal of a universal sense of wistfulness and cultural tension.

Ted Gahl (b. 1983, New Haven, Connecticut) received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY in 2006 and an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI in 2010. Gahl has been an artist-in-residence at Tilleard Projects Residency, Lamu, Kenya, Africa; and Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL. The artist has exhibited internationally at: Galleri Jacob Bjrn, Aarhus, Denmark; Towards, Toronto, Canada; Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; The Journal, Brooklyn, NY; The Peninsula School, Institute of Contemporary Art, Maine College of Art, Portland, Maine; and Mass MOCA, North Adams, MA. His work has been featured in publications including: The New York Times, Artinfo, Time Out London, Artnews, Contemporary Art Daily, and New American Paintings, among many others. Gahl lives and works in Litchfield, CT.

Ted Gahl: Paintings and Minku Kim: Foundation will run at Alexander Berggruen (1018 Madison Avenue, Floor 3) from September 1-October 14, 2020, by appointment.

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