Wade Guyton's Natural Wine at Galerie Chantal Crousel: Painting in the digital age


Wade Guyton's Natural Wine is the artist's third solo show at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris. Opening from 23 February to 6 April 2019, the exhibition presents his latest experimentations with digital print, a medium he has been using since the beginning of his career in the early 2000's.


Natural Wine is undoubtedly a photography-oriented show in direct continuity with his last exhibition at Le Consortium (Dijon) in 2016. Indeed, after experimenting for years with a "vocabulary of simple shapes and letters drawn or typed in Microsoft Word" - among which we find his signature "X" - and his famous pictures of flames, the artist is now using photography printing in most of his works.


The exhibition begins with a grey, cold and almost post-industrial view from Guyton's studio in New York, based on the same photograph used on the exhibition poster on the left. The same atmosphere can be found in two other pieces from the show, which represent the remains of a lunch set up on a wooden table and a man standing in his kitchen, among metal furniture and tools.


The internet also plays a prominent role in Guyton's latest works. Among the large-scale canvases shown at the exhibition, there are 3 Internet paintings with printed screenshots taken from the website of the New York Times and the porn platform Xvideos, which are clearly not the best works we have seen from the artist yet.


Further away in the gallery, two bi-chromatic paintings immediately catch the viewer's eye. These two works are indeed enlarged binary versions of a bitmap file, which is a format use to store images on an electronic device. The artist chose to display the coded version of a hidden image, thus shedding light on the invisible part of digital contents.


One of the bitmap paintings

But the works based on the image of drying canvases put on the floor or tacked to the wall are by far the most interesting pieces of the show. These photographs were altered during the printing process in order to change their colors, shapes and qualities. This process allows Guyton to create stunning abstract compositions with surreal color palettes.


This exhibition is taking place at a time of renewal for the artist, whose market had slowed down in the last few years after reaching a peak in 2014 with a a painting sold for $6,000,000 at Sotheby's, which belonged to the iconic Fire series.

This untitled work sold for $ 5,989,000 in 2014

The artist himself did not take part in the dramatic soar of his prices. Known for being wary of the art market, he even stopped producing for 4 years in response to what he viewed as a form of speculation around his art.


But this pause did not hinder the solid institutional reputation of the artist, whose works are still held in the collections of prestigious museums such as the MoMA and the Whitney Museum in New York or Centre Pompidou in Paris. More recently, dozens of his works were shown as part of the Margulies Collection during Art Basel in Miami last December. Furthermore, two pieces from the artists, which belong to the prestigious Louis Vuitton Foundation, are currently shown in one of the main rooms of its permanent collection exhibition in Paris.

Last but not least, a big retrospective will also take place at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne in November 2019.


There are now 2 opposite directions for the artist's future. His works may indeed remain in the hands of a handful of loyal collectors with stagnating prices, but Guyton could also consolidate his position as one of the most prestigious artists of his generations as well as the main proponent of the artistic movement inspired by the internet and new technologies.


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