Pattern Recognition: Jered Sprecher at Jeff Bailey Gallery

Compositional kaleidoscopes could be a useful shorthand for describing Jered Sprecher's oeuvre. As demonstrated in the cheekily titled I Always Lie, Sprecher's third solo exhibition at Jeff Bailey Gallery in New York, he is equally gifted in color combinations and media application, in a range of scales and often within the same painting. That's not to say the visual effect is erratic, but who needs stabilizing agents when the abstract noise is this awesome?! — Brian Fee, Austin contributor


Jered Sprecher | Heuristic, 2012, Oil on linen, 36 x 30 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.

I took Heuristic's titular suggestion to heart, tackling its eye-catching symbolism and deciding on vintage Nintendo. Origami birds or wireframe antagonists float on a flickering blue field, supplanted by a Legend of Zelda Triforce sketched in a field of Malevich white. Offsetting the background's screensaver flatness is the white rectangle's junk-food border, particularly the glistening Kewpie mayo tone slathered onto the bottom. Heuristic could be 'a hard night of gaming' distilled into practically minimalist elements. So it's not exactly a scientific analysis, but such a 'heuristic' and instinctual approach — in my case, childhood nostalgia — focuses the compositional integrity of Sprecher's demanding style.

Jered Sprecher | Held Close, 2012, Oil on linen, 40 x 44 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.
Jered Sprecher | Parachute, 2012, Oil on linen, 32 x 30 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.

In some instances, evidence of the artist manipulating (even 'destabilizing') his compositions is evident. Sprecher positions flat triangular planes of color, a jumbo-sized Tangram puzzle, over a roiling backdrop in Parachute, then, like a final snub to the powerfully complimentary yellow and violet, wraps the whole thing in two wide bands of translucent grey. The effect isn't as bracing as David Hammons' wonderful 2011 exhibition at L&M Arts, where he wrapped gestural neo-AbEx canvases in grungy plastic shrouds, but by working within in the same plane, Sprecher obscures layers without totally flattening it. On the opposite wall, Held Close emulates a light source refracted through a prism, with lush greenery 'oxidizing' a geodesic pattern of vermillion triangles into blinding whites and yellows. I likened it to Aboria's gardens in Panos Cosmatos' retro sci-fi film Beyond the Black Rainbow, but that's my heuristic point of view.

Jered Sprecher | Behind Your Eyes, 2012, Oil on linen, 20 x 20 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.
sprecher_ i_always_lie_install_2
Jered Sprecher | I Always Lie installation view. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.

The gallery press release mentions the Liar's Paradox as inspiration for Sprecher's exhibition title, I Always Lie. I've dealt with shows containing philosophical undertones before (see: Carl Hammoud at Lora Reynolds Gallery), and I'll admit this brand of deep thinking is not my forte. However, as I understand it, in taking a page from Polish philosopher and mathematician Alfred Tarski, since the language of art is not 'semantically closed', it can therefore exist without explicitly referencing its many parts, i.e. the multi-sized canvases in this show. Take the gallery back wall as example. Sprecher intended to display a bunch of small- to -midsized canvases salon-style for this exhibition. The final combination was fluidic, but Hearth (a resonating pinkish/purple work and the second-largest of the array) was always considered the central element. Whether deliberate or not, Hearth seems to emit its artful embers outward onto its nine neighbors — The Play is Over's stippled pattern; Pain is Missed in Praise's tonal elements; Memory Device's interrupted realism.

Jered Sprecher | Memory Device, 2012, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.
Jered Sprecher | Pain is Missed in Praise, 2012, Oil on linen, 16 x 12 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.

I am confident that, had one of these canvases been cycled out for one of the other smaller works in the show, like the prickly Rough Hewn Greet the Light, this sense of innate visual unity would remain. What does this say about Sprecher's notion of abstraction? I believe he gives us enough raw data to latch onto and contemplate; so maybe we feel out meaning like I did for Heuristic or we sense an underlying order overall, like in nature. In any case, they're the opposite of dull.

Jered Sprecher | Rough Hewn Greet the Light, 2012, Oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches. Courtesy the artist and Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York.


This is Jered Sprecher’s third solo exhibition at the gallery (continuing through March 23). Other solo exhibitions include Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston; Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles; and Gallery 16, San Francisco. He has been included in group exhibitions at the Drawing Center, the Weatherspoon Museum of Art and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. Sprecher has been an artist in residence at the Marie Walsh Sharpe Foundation, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and in summer 2013 will be at the Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas. In 2009 he was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship. He received his MFA from the University of Iowa in 2002. He joined the faculty of The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2005, where he is currently an Associate Professor.

Brian Fee is an art punk currently based in Austin, TX. His culture blog Fee’s List covers his three loves (art, film, live music) occurring in his other three loves (the Lone Star State, the Big Apple, and Tokyo).

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