SCOTT SPEH GALLERY
845 W Washington Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60607
Wedensdays thru Saturdays
11am to 6pm
11 - October 10, 2009
Paul Nudd will pack the gallery with new paintings and drawings inspired
by and depicting what the artist calls the “peri-anal universe”.
Although his muse is an abject one; the works can’t help but
reveal a strange and elegant beauty. The works’ coloristic and
formal contrasts, as described below, are manifestations of Nudd’s
primary interest: the decaying natural world as seen against the artificiality
of the made world.
The paintings on canvas refer to microscopic lifeforms, often looking
like exceptionally well-designed bacterial samples squashed between
two glass slides. Nudd refers to the works’ primary compositional
elements as “blobs” – oval shapes, painted or collaged
onto the raw canvas, that are replicated in varying sizes and colors
(usually earth tones, but also shocking pinks and reds) across the
canvas. Occasionally, the artist’s blobs are punctuated with
low-relief “nuclei” crafted from nuggets of modeling clay
in high-keyed colors. Nudd’s color flips back and forth between
differing approaches to the visceral; pop-candy colors vibrate against
the dingy fake vomit tones; unbleached titanium clashes with fleshy
At a glance, the paintings seem busy, out of control – randomly
mixing colors and shapes. But dedicated viewing reveals the paintings
to be carefully composed portraits of filth and decay: gooey puddles,
fussy swaths of sludge, scumbles of strange substances, delicate stains,
wisps of string, hair, felt and fake vomit settle on the plain of
the blank canvas like scabs on smooth skin.
Despite the artist’s self-proclaimed efforts to make “gross-out”
art, Nudd’s paintings are perversely attractive, disgustingly
hilarious and infinitely engaging. As Anthony Elms notes in a recent
essay on Nudd’s work, “See, it is possible to giggle,
panic, and squirm at the same time, and that is what Paul’s
artwork consistently aims to induce.” Nudd maps a world –
or as he says, a fishtank – of bacterial delights. As he states
in a recent interview with Evan Lennox (available at the gallery),
“I don't aim to offend anyone; on the contrary, I want people
to engage with my work for as long as possible. I just think there
is an entire abyss of color combinations, forms, textures, and approaches
to making things that people need to see. Crust, slop, and meditations
on fake vomit and its uses are all interesting points of departure.”
This is Paul Nudd’s second solo show at Western Exhibitions.
Recent solo and two-person shows include Jack the Pelican Presents
in Brooklyn, telephonebooth in Kansas City and the Hyde Park Art Center,
Bodybuilder & Sportsmen, and Dogmatic, all in Chicago, and group
shows at Andreas Bruning Gallery in Dusseldorf, the Evanston Art Center,
the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and Mixture Contemporary in Houston.
He recently completed a collaborative printmaking residency with Onsmith
at the Spudnik Press in Chicago and his zines and artist books are
in several institutional artist book collections across the country.
He is a recent recipient of an Illinois Arts Council grant. Paul Nudd
received his MFA from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2001 and
he lives and works in Berwyn, Illinois.