Morgan Lehman Gallery is very pleased to present A Sax in the Attic, a collaborative exhibition between artists Jonathan Ryan Storm and Louis Reith. After presenting their two-person show Hypnotic Country Yoga at the Amsterdam-based Mini Galerie earlier this year, A Sax in the Attic marks the first time these two have teamed up in the United States. The title of this show, perhaps a non-sequitur at first blush, brings to mind ideas that might inform a viewer’s reading of the works: the structured chaos of complicated jazz patterns, a search for hidden treasures, the dust of forgotten times.
Jonathan Ryan Storm’s recent paintings delight in the hypnotic, even psychedelic visual possibilities of color and line, while asserting a charmingly maladroit material presence through the use of stretched/collaged textile elements and chunky oil stick application. The resulting works are playful, hand wrought, and visually rewarding in person. This interest in quality of surface and the sculpturesque extends to Louis Reith’s vocabulary as well: he makes paintings by applying richly dark soil to shaped wood panels and renders works on paper using ink and collage on found book pages. In Reith’s works, there is a sense of elegance and balance that feels inherent not only linearity of the forms depicted but also the materials/supports themselves. While Storm’s process relies heavily on intuitive decision making whereby each step in a painting leads to the next, Reith is more firmly planted in an art-making method of forethought and calculation. Both artists overtly reference an art-history past, whether it’s Modernist design, Post-Painterly abstraction, or assemblage, but the results are more than simply filled with longing. Rather, A Sax in the Attic is the culmination of two painters playing their respective visions of abstraction against one another, to optimistic effect.