TIME AND PLACE:

Doors: Tue–Sat 10am-6pm

@ Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia St, London WC1X 9JD

Free entry

www.gagosian.com

This extensive exhibition spanning four generations explores the myriad ways in which artists have employed the impulsive yet de-personalized and non-gestural forces of SPRAY.

It begins with Paul Klee’s work on paper Seltsames Theater (1929), where he improvised with a blowpipe to achieve hazy background effects in a circus scene. This tentative experiment presaged the bold and diverse artistic licence that would come with the post-war advent of aerosol paint as a consumer product and the use of the industrial paint compressor.

From the mid-1950s, sculptor David Smith sprayed enamels over various studio objects and offcuts laid on canvas and paper as stencils; the resulting images recalled Paleolithic cave paintings made by blowing pigment over hands pressed flat. John Chamberlain blurred the lines between painting and sculpture by torquing scrap automobile parts into painterly abstractions, then enhancing the original paint surface with fresh sprays of coloured lacquer. Lawrence Weiner’s interaction with the medium resulted in a simple, dispassionate instruction: Two Minutes of Spray Paint Directly Upon the Floor From a Standard Aerosol Spray Can (1968); while Martin Barré tested it at different distances and pressures in a series of rapid strikes producing sequences of stripes and cryptic punctuations on paper.

From the late sixties, spray assumed a new scale and level of exposure, from Dan Christensen’s vast “post-painterly” abstractions—where he used a spray gun to create intersecting coloured loops of paint alive with cool-tempered energies—and Jules Olitski’s ethereal gradations of tone, texture, and depth; to Richard Artschwager’s furtive urban Blps; Jean-Michel Basquiat’s existential aphorisms tagged on New York City walls; and Keith Haring’s exuberant political pictography that covered bodies, canvases, and subways. In the ultimate debunking of Ab Ex posturing, Andy Warhol produced a series of alchemical Oxidation Paintings by urinating on canvases primed with metallic paint.