Leidy Churchman: Painting Treatments

17 July - 21 August 2010
Installation Views
Press release

The gallery is pleased to present Painting Treatments by Leidy Churchman, an exhibition featuring three new video works. The exhibition coincides with the artist’s inclusion in Greater New York at PS1/MOMA in New York and marks the opening of Horton Gallery’s new space in the Kreuzberg neighborhood of Berlin.


Vacillating between painting and sculpture, Churchman creates paintings on wood, painted sculpture, and paint-y videos. One might say that there is something “trans” about Churchman’s work. It moves “across” and “beyond” media and in doing so it makes metaphors between media, genders, and sexualities.


Highlighting the hand of the artist, the videos treat the studio as the site of transformation and creation, but also as a kind of canvas: set on a white background, the camera often lingers on shots of the compositions Churchman creates, turning the monitor into a de-facto frame. Employing a variety of common objects in lieu of a traditional paintbrush, including a bag of potato chips and a whip, Churchman makes a kind of ritual dance. Often using an assistant, Churchman partially excuses himself from the work’s making. If he is represented at all, it is only by a hand or an elbow—in pieces.


Paint here is used to blur things, to bring objects and bodies together. Painting here is “painting”—a permanent gerund, always in motion. There is also rhythm, however, a percussive sound of slaps and cracks. Objects are used in the wrong way - it is a gross viscous mix. Carolee Schneemann’s seminal performance Meat Joy (1964) comes to mind. In Churchman's works, we have a binding of bodies, which suggest the possibility of other selves—even a new body politic—to come.


The performative aspect of Churchman’s live paintings, particularly in Painting Treatments #1, strongly recalls Hans Namuth’s films of Jackson Pollock in action, and within the same revisionist vein of Churchman’s approach to oils, these videos give a subtle wink to the differences between Pollock’s notorious machismo and Churchman’s trans identity. Further complicating this allusion is Churchman’s choice to act upon passive, anonymous models, which remain unresponsive even to the more uncomfortable assaults upon their bodies. The artist tackles these themes with a dose of cheeky humor, demonstrating that while he is game to address the constellation of associations evoked by abstract action painting, gender, and agency, he is not above a playful, locker-room-style slap to the rear-end.


Leidy Churchman (b. 1979, Villanova, PA) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received a MFA from Columbia University, New York, NY, and a BA from Hampshire College, Amherst, MA. His work is currently on view as a part of Greater New York at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY. He has been included in group exhibitions at Dumbo Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY; Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, CA; and as a part of LTTR at Andrew Kreps Gallery. His work has been reviewed in The New York Times, Artforum, and The San Francisco Guardian. The artist was recently included on Jerry Saltz’s list of “33 Notable Artists Emerging After 1999”. The artist was recently awarded a Rijks Akademie Residency for 2011 in Amsterdam.