Of the fundamental formal elements that compose a painting, the drawn line, for me, is the primary, defining visual impulse. Dividing and demarcating the picture plane, a figure/ground relationship is unmistakably implied. From this binary origin, a multitude of seemingly contradictory notions are suggested: space and form, expansion and contraction, fluidity and solidity, light and shadow, amongst others.
The current body of work seeks not only to examine the tensions between these dichotomous pairs, but to explore their affinities as well. Composition is directed in such a way that a kind of tempered union of contrasting aspects results, in which opposition gives way to likeness, and an ontological ambiguity is established within the original figure/ground dynamic.
The element of line in these works has been developed into a series of alternating bands which are iterated and woven throughout the pictorial space. Juxtaposing hard, vertical edges with the soft undulation of horizontal gestures, the viewer is invited to enter a contemplative space and [to] pursue a slow, deliberate meditation at the interface of these relationships. Ultimately, through a visual interplay at the boundaries of contrasting elements, opposites equilibrate in a choreographed stillness of activity.
Erik Spehn received his BFA from the University of Michigan School of Art, Ann Arbor, MI. He has exhibited at museums and institutions including: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO; Saarländisches Künstlerhaus, Saarbrücken, Germany; Centre d'art Contemporain, Metz, France; and more. His work is in numerous public and private collections including: Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO; Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo, NY; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedelia, MO; Temple University, Philadelphia, PA; among others.