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Pratt Manhattan Gallery Presents “The Apex Is Nothing”

The group exhibition The Apex Is Nothing at Pratt Manhattan Gallery highlights artists working primarily in painting and drawing who utilize diverse structural systems — from data-based, mathematical models to intuitive linguistic systems — to arrive at their imagery.

Curated by Ken Weathersby and John O’Connor, the vision for the exhibition was inspired by Alfred Jensen, whose paintings and drawings maintain a center of energy between abstract form and an array of idea structures. Jensen’s thinking was shaped by his deep interest in realities outside of the strict visual concerns of painting or drawing, such as philosophy, physics, mathematics, and calendrical time. The other artists in The Apex Is Nothing similarly draw upon diverse systems, including statistical data, language and text, and mapped social or political matrices.

Featured artist and co-curator John O’Connor states, “Jensen’s work linked the rational with the magical, and material (physical, optical) with immaterial (thinking, conceptual). His diagrammatic, patterned paintings manifested a type of isomorphism, in which hidden synergies between seemingly unrelated ideas became concrete.” Similarly, the artists included in the show herein transform information from a range of external sources into highly refined optical works.

Co-curator Ken Weathersby says, “The works of these artists embody an abstraction formed, or deformed, and pushed into unexpected shapes by collision with the ‘extra-aesthetic.’ Their visual power is catalyzed by the absorption of factors beyond the picture plane, creating the tension of desire to pull what is seen into an aesthetic framework, to recuperate what might seem like surprising choices and unusual structures back into a pictorial focus.”

Notable featured artists in the exhibition at Pratt Manhattan Gallery include Ellen Lesperance, whose patterned paintings depict full-body garments of female activists engaged in direct action protests; Xylor Jane, whose labor-intensive paintings translate ephemeral, personal experiences into subtly colored dots derived from mathematical formulations; and Melvin Way, whose ballpoint pen and ink pieces explore the uncharted border between art and scientific discovery and illumination.

The full list of artists includes Mel Bochner, Becky Brown, Mike Cloud, Charles Gaines, Xylor Jane, Steffani Jemison, Alfred Jensen, Ellen Lesperance, Chris Martin, John O’Connor, Bruce Pearson, Leslie Roberts, Jorinde Voigt, Melvin Way, and George Widener.

The Apex Is Nothing is open from April 5 through June 8 at 144 West 14th Street in New York City. Pratt Manhattan Gallery is free and open to the public.

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