In Secret Unison by Steven Husby
June 23, 2016
Yet there’s also a performative aspect to Pierce’s work that distinguishes it from each of these historical examples, aligning it in an understated way with more disruptive contemporaries like Merlin Carpenter and Richard Aldrich. Yet again – Pierce’s work neither shares Carpenter’s apparent political commitments, nor Aldrich’s faith in the institutional frame, which he relies on to place his ethereal gestures into a narrative context. Although Pierce shares with each of these more recent examples an openness to conceiving of the object or its placement as a site of performance (as he demonstrated to brilliant effect in his immersive allover wall installation at Roman Susan in 2015), he puts less pressure on this aspect than either of them do, gently allowing the site to discretely enable his investigations of the subtle effects of shape, color, mark making (and its absence), light, and rhythm on our sense of where we are, and what we are looking at.
Nevertheless, it would also be a mistake to view these paintings merely as documents of a performance of painterly construction. The fact alone that they never feel cropped, either in the placement of the shapes on the support, or in the placement of the effects of the gradient in relation to the framing edge, would indicate that although these paintings may in one sense be the literal residue of a performance of dutiful pictorial construction and execution (brick by brick, as it were) they are also meant to be viewed not only as acts of painting, but also as paintings themselves – discrete pictorial objects which both acknowledge the facts of their making, while also alluding to an illusory depth, belying their internal and external edges. It is the specific articulation of these latter relationships, from painting to painting, which is the key to the meaning of this work.
– Steven Husby, Chicago, based artist and writer