Wite Trash
Galerie Martin Janda
June-July, 2010

My new paintings revolve around two unrelated cultural phenomena, both having to do with degradation and the color white. The first is the so-called “end of painting” that occurred in Europe and America in the 1960s and 70s. Ad Reinhardt’s Black Paintings aside, this historical moment was predominantly “white” both in terms of the images that were produced by the likes of Agnes Martin, Roman Opalka, Jo Baer, and Robert Ryman, and in the racial makeup of these artists themselves. The second phenomenon, one both more personal and remote, is the fact that I grew up in the American South and am thus well accustomed to the cultural habits of rural Caucasian southerners, often pejoratively referred to as “white trash.”

This show marks the beginning of my investigation into whether there might be a relationship—however insightful or speculative—between the sparse endgame logic of late-Modernist painting and the desperate socio-economics of working class whites. This latter state of mind has recently manifested itself as the so-called “Tea Party” movement in the United States, in which long-simmering race and class resentments have boiled over into virulent public displays of veiled threats, overt racism, and often humorously misspelled protest signs.