Jeff Elrod, Alex Hubbard, Yang Shu – Simon Lee, Hong Kong
Jeff Elrod, Alex Hubbard, Yang Shu – Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong presents a group exhibition of works by Jeff Elrod, Alex Hubbard and Yang Shu. Working across the painted medium, all three artists share a commitment to gesture, colour and graphic mark-making, albeit in very different ways. Yet a common approach to anti-hierarchical materials and techniques unites the three artists, each of whom continues to challenge the traditions of painting in bold and experimental ways, not least in their handling of the performative gesture and the ways in which it can be relayed in two dimensions.
Jeff Elrod’s large-scale abstract paintings are concerned with the relationship between hand-painted and digitally-created mark-making. Central to Elrod’s practice is the development of sophisticated software and print technology, which has enabled him to combine typically ‘analogue’ and ‘digital’ techniques, resulting in an innovative visual language specifically his own. Many of his works are hybrid images that incorporate more traditional materials with ‘frictionless’ digital drawings that originate using familiar programmes such as Illustrator and Photoshop. The resulting paintings are characterised by shifts between flat planes of colour and a reductive, computerised iconography.
Alex Hubbard’s paintings, by contrast, often suggest a mechanical means of production. Fields of colour in fibreglass and resin are interrupted with richly pooled, dripped and poured paint. Working with fast-drying materials, such as epoxy and latex, the artist is forced to act quickly, embracing chance happenings and revelling in the autonomy of his chosen media. Through this deconstruction every traditional opposition of the formal language of painting is opened up: figure and ground, material and illusionistic depth, the horizontality of production and the verticality of display.
Similarly to Elrod and Hubbard, the artist’s hand is palpable in Yang Shu’s work. An early adopter of non-representational painting in China, his exuberant and unrestrained painting is informed by both traditional Chinese and contemporary Western art practices, as evidenced by calligraphic gestures and arcane, Twombly-esque compositions. References to German Expressionism and outsider art pervade Yang Shu’s practice, while his naïve, pastel palette is offset with graffiti-like scrawls, hinting at more subversive themes than his energetic oeuvre presents at first glimpse.