Sam Fryer (b.1986) works in geometric abstraction, creating contemporary paintings and drawings in a visual language as old as culture itself. Since ancient civilizations first uncovered the elemental relationships that govern nature, geometry has guided the development of agriculture, architecture, astrology, and art around the world. Centuries later, as rectangular screens and orbital satellites mediate life on earth, Fryer invokes geometric abstraction to expose some of the terms and conditions of augmented reality. His practice juxtaposes our innate ability to interpret the environment with technology’s influence on the relationship between humanity and nature today.
Elegant meditations on the duality of progress, Fryer’s ink-colored canvasses brim with tension and vitality. His sophisticated handling of form, color, and texture produce radiantly refined compositions, capable of engaging the viewer with a glance. Whether his structural arrangements lead the eye buoyantly across the canvas, or a work’s aesthetic ambiguity commands closer inspection, Fryer’s mystical configurations ensnare the gaze and tempt the touch. By activating our instinctual, physical responses to visual stimulation, the artist provokes the sensory certainty with which we evaluate physical landscapes. Set against the increasingly abstract landscape of the Digital Age, the work highlights the inadequacy of our sensory instincts when facing the enigma of structural relationships encrypted in the virtual realm.
Looking on, the viewer’s initial impression of structural stability within the frame flickers into something darker. In this candlelit chamber of our perception, forms appear to advance and recede, inducing an awareness of the composition’s precarious balance. To enhance this effect, Fryer begins each composition by delineating its positive and negative space with primer. He then flips his canvasses (often made of hemp or linen), and applies paint to the back of the work. When the anterior hues bleed to the surface, they appear only where primer has not been applied, endowing shapes with a shifty, peripheral glow. As the verifiable structures, which initially inspired our attraction become visually concerning, Fryer’s work echoes our escalating preoccupation with a world imminently threated by climate change, dwindling biodiversity, religious fanaticism, and nuclear destruction.
Confronting Fryer’s canvasses, the mechanics of perception spring into consciousness. By invoking the relationship between our senses and our minds, Fryer uses geometry to emphasize that it was our ability to understand the environment rather than withstand it, which propelled our species’ success on earth. We have harnessed the language of the universe and suspended global communications systems in the stars. But as we navigate physical reality by the glare of smartphones, technology obscures our relationship with an already deteriorating global landscape. As the structures within Fryer’s work shift from comfort to concern, his canvasses become a metaphor for physical reality, juxtaposing human intelligence with the state of our planet.
Perhaps there is no better time to create art that engages our humanity. The Digital Age has all but crystallized the certainty of global impermanence. Hollywood blockbusters compete for legitimacy in an endless sea of apocalyptic probability as we envision a future in timelapse. The world conquered, we find the solar system within reach and distant galaxies within view – but a celestial frontier becomes an improbable panic room when the threat of terrestrial destruction looms over our kind. Maybe, as Fryer suggests, it is time to turn our attention inwards, to explore those things which make us human – for if there is anything capable of inspiring contemporary faith, it is the enduring power of pure physical experience to produce the most profound, intangible sensations on Earth.
Now We Here, ABXY Gallery Opening, Lower East Side
New Work, Atelier ABXY, NYC Grid Paintings, Labartino Gallery at SCOPE, NYC Sacred Shapes, A+E Studios, Tribeca, NYC
Ocular Art Auction, Paddle8.com Permutations, Two Rams Gallery, New York Art Market Hamptons, Two Rams Gallery, New York SCOPE Miami Beach, Labartino Gallery, Miami, FL
Group Show, Art Students League of New York About Face, 125 Rivington, New York Close Quarters, ARTIFACT, New York What is an Art Book?, Garis & Hahn, New York
It’s a Wonderful Tenth, Sideshow Gallery, Brooklyn NY No longer lil…BowwowHaus, Ligne Roset, New York
Inside Abstraction, Janet Kurnatowski Gallery, Brooklyn NY