01.06.17 Press

John Dante Bianchi Reviewed in Artforum

For his solo exhibition “Unavoidable Encounter,” John Dante Bianchi has made sculptures that initially register as paintings attempting to escape their supports. Concertina-like folds of what seems to be canvas—but is actually immaculately engineered strata of wood and aluminum—wrest from their stretcher bars, rising and jutting forth in sharply angled planes, revealing trusses and screws beneath. Acrylic paint is applied to the surfaces in layers, then sanded back to form warm clouds of pinks, purples, and oranges, with patches of iridescent gray where the metal is exposed. The abstract visual effect in each contused piece is at once cosmologically vast and intimate on a cellular level.

Bianchi’s work resuscitates that fatigued threshold between sculpture and painting. The canvas sections are made and colored first, and their stretchers are fitted afterward, reversing a painting’s construction. This is most strikingly expressed in the thrusting shards of Untitled (Torqued Panel #15), 2016. The suggestion of corporeal separation between the piece’s upper and underlying components, such as a tendon flayed from bone, renders the work strangely emotive rather than dryly academic, despite its architectural precision.

The ten works here are wall-mounted, except for a floor piece resembling the moldering, bleached husk of a redwood’s trunk, which plays at sculpture a bit too predictably. Pristine and restrained, yet unexpectedly vulnerable, Bianchi’s work arrestingly regards what is, and isn’t, a painting, offering crisp analysis on how porous the brink between these two media may be.

— Darren Jones

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