I was out of town for a little while last month, and one of the very first things I did upon returning a couple weeks ago—rather than engaging in the more or less logical act of unpacking my bags—was spend an afternoon doing studio visits with Oriane Stender and Don Voisine in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Don’s studio was brimming with brand new and recent works, many of which would soon be wrapped up and shipped off for a couple big shows he has coming up—a large survey show in Rockland, Maine, at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art; and a two-person show at Dr. Julius in Berlin, Germany. While he shuffled through and showed me dozens of paintings, new and old alike, to give me a sense of his trajectory as a painter and what his forthcoming shows might feature, we talked about architectural references and construction sites, formally girding blacks and chromatic solutions, ostensible rigidities that might not be so rigid after all, and how an occasional outlier of a work can sometimes resurface years later and define an entire corpus.
Compositional blacks and a certain spareness of color were points of conversation in Oriane’s studio as well. We also talked about paper qualities and yellowed edges, woven strips of words and selective obscurings of texts, currency and Proust as all-but-inifinitely manipulable materials, variable surfaces and treatments that might be used to provide broader contexts and substrates for the same, and the enduring importance of finding meaning in names.
In addition, the three of us chatted all together about bubbly water and bourbon, crossed forms and crucifixes, text art and pop art, and slow days spent in small towns on the Eastern Shore along the Chesapeake Bay.
It would be two full weeks before I finally got around to unpacking my bags, by the way. My excuses for not doing so sooner were never as good as they were that first day.
Paul D’Agostino, Ph.D. is an artist, writer, translator, curator and professor living in Bushwick, Brooklyn. More information about him is available here, and you can find him as @postuccio on Instagram and Twitter.