Allan Stone Projects is pleased to present Edvins Strautmanis, on view January 8-March 21, 2015. Selected from the Allan Stone Collection, the exhibition presents five monumental paintings from the early 1970s, when the artist’s work was in a state of euphoric flux. Though he took up the legacy of Abstract Expressionism with vigor, Strautmanis pushed his large-scale canvases toward the brink of material overload and established his own performative brand of painting. For Strautmanis, paintings were not just visual objects but objects that became charged in real time by accumulated dramatic gesture, a conception that tied him not only to Pollock and Kline, but also to artists such as Kazuo Shiraga and the Gutai Group. Ultimately, Strautmanis extended both traditions, balancing painting’s dual identities as object and act with authority and grace. Concurrent with the exhibition, we will feature works by some of Strautmanis’ stylistic antecedents, including Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning John Chamberlain, Alfred Leslie and Charles Ginnever.
Tensions between chaos and order, the pictorial and the material, provided Strautmanis with his method and gave his works their drama. While the artist was a painter of obvious compositional nuance, he was also relentless about challenging the physical limits of his control, compelled to paint on the floor rather than upright. The scale of the marks seem to demand the force of the artist’s entire body. The vast quantities of poured paint, like lava flows and maelstroms of pigment, seem to streak and blanket the surface of the painting independent of the artist’s hand. Even Strautmanis’ inventive choice of painting implement—paint-laden brooms deployed fetishistically to drag, slap and stir marks against the canvas with “wet-on-wet” immediacy—reflect the epic imperative of these works.
Edvins Strautmanis was born in Latvia in 1933. Emigrating with his family to Chicago in 1950, Strautmanis studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and worked in the graphics department of Playboy magazine. He began exhibiting in Chicago in 1965, before moving to New York in 1970. Over the years Strautmanis showed at LoGiudice Gallery, Allan Stone Gallery and Stephen Rosenberg Gallery. His work is included in many notable collections, including The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Cornell University, the Phoenix Museum of Art, the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota FL, and the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Switzerland. Strautmanis has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Art in America and Artforum. In 1992 he died at age 58 in New York.