Sam Messenger’s drawings begin with a series of rules and conditions the artist imposes upon himself in order to fulfil the project. Messenger’s practice is one of poetic potential. The artistic journey is one of physical and temporal surrender to the finished surface of the work.

Looking at Messenger’s work is almost as physically demanding for us as it is for him to produce it. Our eye longs to identify the algorithms that give his lines their underlying order, to restore faith that the artist is in control. Yet his work owes less to Sol LeWitt’s rule-based geometric repetitions than it does to the humility expressed in Agnes Martin’s grids. Like Martin, Messenger submits himself to the ‘laws’ of chance. Errors and miscalculations quickly contradict whatever ordering principle existed when he began.  Messenger exploits these flaws as evidence that the object is the creation of the human hand. His most recent works were made in a remote town in the French Alps on a river near Chamonix. Messenger soaked sheets of Italian Fabriano paper in the river water then left them outdoors in freezing conditions to respond to the elements.”


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tagged as: sam messenger. process art. sol lewitt. agnes martin. armory show. the armory.

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