No to Self
Dec 08 — Jan 14
From stock futures to political prediction, the ongoing battle between empiricists and those that depend on instinct has come to a head. A line has been drawn between the fallibility/reliability of raw data versus an almost mystical seat-of-the-pants feel for a given situation, and this division has taken on a moral dimension. This conflict—the static noise of so much information in contradiction and dispute—is the starting point for Andrew Kuo’s newest body of tragicomic acrylic on linen paintings.
Formally, the paintings reflect the frictionless, perpetual motion of information. Many of them utilize the image of a deck of cards spread out in sliding stacks, their rectangular shapes repeated and overlapping, as if pushed into snaky piles by the hand of an unseen magician. In a digital analogue, the forms also mimic a proliferation of open windows on a computer desktop—a glut of data options.
The paintings structure their content around some of the more popular cultural systems of coping: religion, psychotherapy and our normalizing routines. As always, Kuo turns inward mapping microclimates of emotion, and the nuances of personal interaction (both with the living and the departed) in an attempt to organize his feelings to a degree sufficient to extract them from the realm of romanticism and into rationality.
As a result, and despite evidence to the contrary, this is not abstraction. Instead it is a complex visualization of the specific mechanics of human struggle. For Kuo it’s a struggle that must contend with the big metaphysical questions (“Are we in the same clothes for eternity?” “Is haunting our enemies frowned upon?”) as well as the critical necessities (“lowering cholesterol”, “consistent hydration”). No to Self is the painted manifestation of the comedian’s trampled ego and the songwriter’s broken heart.