San Francisco

Nate Boyce: Polyscroll at YBCA

Today from our partners at Art Practical, we bring you a review of Nate Boyce’s solo show at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Author Monica Westin notes: “The overall effect is akin to walking around a sculpture in a completely unanchored plane in space that occasionally drifts into and out of alignment with other planes and other worlds.” This article was originally published on March 24, 2015.

Nate Boyce. Polyscroll II, 2015 (still); HD video. Courtesy of the Artist and Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco.

Nate Boyce. Polyscroll II, 2015 (video still); HD video. Courtesy of the Artist and Altman Siegel Gallery, San Francisco.

At a recent screening accompanying Nate Boyce’s Polyscroll exhibition at YBCA, the artist presented a group of abstract films and video/media art that have been influential to his work, particularly as examples of how film can approach being painterly.

While the films Boyce showed—Robert Breer’s menacing but playful frame-by-frame animations, Paul Sharits’ violent, physically distressing flashes in Ray Gun Virus—address many of the themes central to Polyscroll, it’s Boyce’s own supercut of a Willem de Kooning documentary with clips and sounds from Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) that is the most critical for uncovering some of the exhibition’s deeper impulses. Boyce’s mash-up combines shots of the hyper-canonical abstract expressionist creating larger-than-life painterly gestures against what Boyce calls the “visceral, biomorphic” aggressive presence of the alien’s uncanny movements and breathing. The resulting effect is grotesque but formally fascinating: How is the creation of a creature like the alien as a sculptural, kinetic, and cinematic object akin to a brushstroke? The question is a timely one, especially now that we are in the age of digital rendering and modeling; Boyce cited the zbrush tool as an analogue to oil painting. How have the some of the most basic art-historical relationships like painting and sculpture changed, and what are the new potentialities for crossbreeding?

Read the full article here.