What was Lost, 2023
30 Second hair bonding glue (rubber latex, black carbon dye)
84h x 65w x 4d in
Library Street Collective is pleased to present a two-person exhibition with Detroit-based artists Allana Clarke and Paul Verdell, titled Linger and opening March 2nd, 2024. Marking the first time the pair has shown together in a dedicated presentation, Linger will present new wall sculptures and paintings that diverge in their makers’ material curiosity and the cultural implications of color and surface.
Clarke’s commissures, objects born out of performance action, are abstract sculptural works made from a rubber latex product called hair bonding glue, traditionally used to glue hair extensions onto the scalp. Pouring large amounts of the hair bonding glue onto a flat mesh surface, the material cures from the top down, developing a leathery skin over the course of several hours. Once the chemical reaction begins, Clarke springs into action, working intuitively to defamiliarize the material. Through performing gestures that are enacted upon the body,—pushing, pulling, pinching, twisting, ripping—“the work becomes a conversation between [Clarke] and the material, a transferal of energy.”
Like Clarke, Verdell’s practice is largely grounded in physicality and conceptual realization through gesture. Before staining his canvases in acrylic wash, Verdell collages fabric and paper onto their surfaces, yielding an instant and organic texture and depth. He then takes to the structural foundation with oil paint, working intuitively and collaboratively with the material to reveal its fated outcome. Thematically, this latest series of paintings revisits Verdell’s early interest in floral still lifes, though they are not drawn from direct observation. Leveraging a distance from his subject, Verdell works from mental impressions of flowers as a cognitive framework for concentrating on material investigations.
For the artists, a sense of freedom is felt in the studio through these formal investigations that are intentional yet unpredictable, contained in their resources yet boundless in their outcomes, and conceptually precise yet discursively open minded. As Verdell describes it, “the act of simply making has become the inspiration.” Linger is a term intended to encompass the overarching concept of discovery, an act of engagement which is essential to both the artists' creative processes as well as the viewers’ experiences of their works, which shift vastly depending on proximity. A connection between the bodies of work is immediately apparent in their shared textural qualities, though more subtly manifested is their link through color. The exhibition presents a beautiful spectrum of hues—Clarke’s stark blacks juxtaposed against Verdell’s bursts of pigment—that, used implicitly, exemplify two distinct approaches to contemplating the poetics of Black space. Points of departure are firmly rooted in reality, but the like goal of the pair is to reorient the associations made with the Black embodied by engaging in a space of performative abstraction.
Linger with Allana Clarke and Paul Verdell is on view from March 2 through April 10, 2024 at Library Street Collective.