SOLO EXHIBITION BY COREY WASH
By ANGELA N. CARROLL
Contemporary artist and supermodel, Corey Wash creates minimalist sketches that center the mundane dramas of indistinct characters as apocalyptic and cynical scenes; witty and humorous accounts about the obliviousness of our post-internet world. Every doodle draws from the artists personal accounts as a bicoastal transplant in Los Angeles and New York, as well her experiences growing up in Baltimore. All of the scenarios Wash portrays offer broad considerations about the dysfunction of contemporary communication.
The earnest portrayals of unapologetic vulgarity; swears, curses, and generally impolite interactions that recur in Wash’s mixed media works, stand as disillusioned proofs that the technological advancements of the 21st century have stunted rather than evolved interpersonal communications. Isn’t It ironic that in the age of globalized interconnectivity and gluttonous data accessibility that most of our communications occur in siloed echo chambers; nihilistic and isolationist social media platforms, where desperately derelict conversations resound? The collective disassociation of our contemporary moment is the framework from which Wash approaches the complexity and nuance of interpersonal relationships.
Wash’s ruminations about the liminal spaces between social autonomy and interdependence are not heady, rather, most frames feel more like comic strips than sociopolitical commentaries. Each canvas stands as a window that peers into a scene that compounds and deconstructs the virtual hypersentience of our daily communications. Decontextualized conversations from Willoughby and friends, a recurring cast of nongendered and racially ambiguous characters, occur within flat neon landscapes. The characters are engaged with monotonous daily activities which they often respond to with curl, nonlinear reactions that mirror the rampant scrolling and cursory commentary of social media discourse. The universality and simplicity of their character designs allows Willoughby and friends to serve as avatars for us all.
It Starts at the Dinner Table, (2019), an acrylic, oil pastel and paint marker work on canvas, depicts the timeline of a strained romantic relationship across four frames. “You are crazy,” one character notes. “FuckYou,” another retorts. “We shouldn’t have yelled in front of the kids” the first continues. “I’m sure they don’t even remember”, the other responds. The next two frames reveal that the children were listening, and as a result, their communication mimics the confrontation a language of their parents.
The relatability of these characters, realized as clean black paint marker outlines accentuated by colorful pastel overlays and transposed texts that create an illusion of 3-dimensionality, make the biting dialogs and spectacles they project, approachable. Each character represents our collective feels; a perpetually anxious and disconcerted mood that we are too distracted or depressed to resolve.
In,Where it All Started, (2019), a vibrant green acrylic and oil pastel work on canvas, a character peeks from the center of overgrown foliage. Nearly camouflaged by the nature that encroaches around them, it is unclear whether the character is hiding or emerging from the vegetation. A small heart shape rests at the back of their throat; their body and the greenery that surrounds them are indistinguishable from one another. Where it All Started, is a rare addition to the collection in that it orients the subject in a wilderness beyond urban landscapes. Viewing the work triggers queries about whether humanity will ever comfortably and sustainably coexist with nature again. The work also alludes to the environments where the artists finds solace; the escapes that provide space to ground and re-center outside of the cacophony of urban sprawl.
These scenes are absurd and clever; the generality of her characterizations coupled with the lexicons they employ; a language derived from the truncated speech of instant messengers, reflect the eroded attention spans and disillusionment of a sensory saturated generation.
In World Ending, (2019), a bright pink acrylic, oil pastel and paint marker work on canvas, a character outlined with sky blue oil pastel responds to a large billboard installed on top of a high-rise building. The ad announces that the world is ending. The character has a dual reaction that is both alarmed and aloof; “Oh, shit!” “Nice ad!”. That the protagonist is equally impressed by the design of the advertisements and the fatalist warning it relays, is a telling revelation.
No Agreements, (2019), a deep blue mixed media work on canvas, presents a similarly detached scene. Black outlined characters crowd and overlap the frame. Several characters contoured with brighter coloration pop out from the hoard. Few of the characters acknowledge the person they are crammed beside. Small “Wanted” posters and other conflicting signs assert the direction that the crowd should move, adding to the chaos of the congested mass. Less visible characters are occupied with side conversations that are lost in the dominant discourse of the swarm. The scene recalls the difficulty of communication as a multitude of distinct perspectives; a few that are boldly pronounced juxtaposed with the commentaries of the vast majority that are lost, obscured and muddled by the opinions of those with larger platforms.
The graphic aesthetic Wash employs is readable even when textual dialog is not displayed. Beautiful layouts akin to DIY zines or the squared cropping of Instagram and Snapchat interfaces, relay the conception and deterioration of intimate relationships. Unlocking Wisdom, (2019), a lemon acrylic, and oil stick work on canvas, breaks down the beginning and end of a relationship into five frames. In the first two, characters kiss and embrace. The next two, depict a rupture in the relationship; beads of sweat drip from the brow of the protagonist, who stutter steps backwards up a set of stairs. The last two frames reveal that the relationship has ended; a clock chimes; a limp leaf sags.
Conversation Derelict, does not attempt to reprimand our communicative pitfalls. The collection implores viewers to found their own context; mine their own digital histories of radical kiki, trending clickbait and Twitter rants to cull deeper meaning from Wash’s studies; an observant survey of contemporary communication, the influence of virtual applications, and the struggle to stay empathetically engaged with sentient life forms in the corporeal world.
“CONVERSATION DERELICT” | Solo Exhibition by COREY WASH
EXHIBITION ON VIEW: FRIDAY, MARCH 29th, 2019 – WEDNESDAY MAY 15th, 2019
Location: ABXY LES | 9 Clinton Street | New York, NY 10002
Artist ig: @coreywash
ABXY presents “CONVERSATION DERELICT” a solo exhibition by artist COREY WASH “Conversation Derelict” marks the artist’s second solo show with the gallery following “It’s a Jungle Out Here” (2018). The upcoming exhibition at ABXY showcases a new collection of the artist’s paintings as well as video and site-specific installation. “Conversation Derelict” will be on view from March 29 – May 15, 2019. Exhibition essay by Angela N. Carroll.
Working across a diverse range of media, artist Corey Wash explores the ideas evolving around environment, culture, and identity today. Wash often plays with concepts related to language and communication in her work, creating images populated by comic-style characters who speak directly to the viewer through confessional speech bubbles. With this exhibition, Wash dives deeper, focusing in on the subject of communication in the Digital Age by presenting scenes of contemporary life, which convey technology’s effect on the exchange of ideas and information today. In splashy, saccharine palettes, these latest cartoon portraits examine our dissociation with reality in a world of screens, signs, and symbols. In so doing, Conversation Derelict asks the question: Why do truth and knowledge feel so inaccessible in a world where we can share ideas and information farther and faster than ever? Taken together, the works in this exhibition suggest that if we don’t find a way to (re)engage with reality and access our collective intelligence, our technological interconnectedness may be our undoing.
An amateur horticulturalist and environmental enthusiast, with this collection, Wash compares her studies of communication in the natural world to her observations of (mis)communication across human culture today. In the work, language is considered from a biological standpoint. With paintings like Where It All Started, in which leaves extend towards a central human figure like cartoon tentacles, the artist invokes our innate capacity for symbolic thought (a trait that separates us from the animals), while reminding us that our communicative capabilities were naturally selected for survival in a physical world, not virtual one. By juxtaposing the idea that language developed as a tool for cooperation and collaboration in the wilderness with our inability to work together on threats to humanity as lethal as climate change or nuclear war, the works in this exhibition emphasize the power of language and communication in our individual and collective health as a society.
Within the exhibition, Wash’s installation, Research Room, satirizes the information overload we experience in contemporary life. Upon entering, the viewer will be surrounded by various forms of visual media projecting messages from all sides. The video on display inside the installation invites the viewer on a coded journey through the artist’s discoveries about early human language. Original audio accompanies the animation. Created in collaboration with MELO-X, beats derived from natural sounds, like waves and bird songs, help the viewer navigate the semiotic visual narrative.