Ed Moses, Untitled (Hegeman Series), 1970, acrylic, resin, masking tape on canvas, 77 x 95 inches
Ed Moses, Untitled (Hegeman Series), 1970, detail
It is always surprising to me that Ed Moses is relatively unknown in New York, and not on the radar of most younger New York painters. It is perhaps symptomatic of the art world of the '50s, '60s and '70s, that artists working in the "backwater" of LA, land of surfers and hot rods, were seen as lacking a certain gravitas that could only be manifested in the grimy pressure cooker of New York. Ed Moses was among the first artists in LA to gain wide attention, showing along with Robert Irwin, Ed Ruscha, and others at the Ferus Gallery in the late 1950s. Now 90 years old, Moses is regarded as a sort of guru of LA art, but hasn't had a show in New York in decades.
So it is a very special event that Albertz Benda Gallery is presenting the first comprehensive East Coast exhibition, featuring sixty years of Moses' work in a great variety of media. The exhibition, titled Painting as Process, is curated by Barbara Rose, and continues through October 15, 2016.
Central to Moses' work is the notion of constructing a painting through a process of interacting with materials, of setting a process in motion, and accepting the results. The earliest painting in the show from 1970 is built by pouring resin over the canvas, and then peeling it up from the floor. A few years later, he is creating intuitively layered diagonal grids that convey a beautiful tension between gesture and precision. Never staying with one process for long, Moses then moved outdoors, where he used brooms and squeegees with combinations of oil and acrylic paint to create sumptuous improvised curtains of color, with organic coagulations of incompatible materials and broad playful gestures. Bolstered by a large selection of drawings from the 1950s on, in the downstairs space, this exhibition reveals the depth of Moses' oeuvre, and his commitment to experimentation and improvisation as fundamental processes.
Ed Moses, Pulled Wedge 1, 1972, polyester resin, acrylic on parchment, 73 x 65 inches
Ed Moses, Pulled Wedge 1, 1972, detail
Ed Moses, NY Trac, 1974, acrylic, laminated tissue on mylar, 73 x 84 inches
Ed Moses, NY Trac, 1974, detail
Ed Moses, Red W-L, 1982, acrylic on 4 wood panels, 84 x 122 inches
Ed Moses, Gimbutas, 1989, oil, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 66 inches
Ed Moses, Gimbutas, 1989, detail
Ed Moses, Wall Layuca #2, 1989, oil, acrylic on canvas, 78 x 132 inches
Ed Moses, Kucha, 1991, oil, acrylic on canvas, 75 x 60 inches
Ed Moses, Kucha, 1991, detail