Holton Rower: Cutaways

Venus, Los Angeles

February 10, 2017

January 14–February 24, 2017

Venus LA
601 South Anderson Street
Los Angeles, CA 90023


“Holton Rower is an artist who is in that important aesthetic pursuit of the sublime, that very elusive and coveted thing that we’re all in search of when we enter the art experience. He has a practice that is in essence about a battle between color and the eye. The work that he makes, be they the Focus paintings, the Pour paintings or here with the Cutaway series, shows us an artist who is engaged in an aggressive assault on the naked eye itself, sometimes leaving us in a place where words can’t take us thereby challenging the bureaucracy of seeing for the sake of pure vision. This is work that will and does transcend language. It will be there when context falls apart. It will remain when culture evolves. You could put his practice in front of anyone, anywhere at any time in the world and the effect will be the same, it will have the same effect on the human eye and that is something very special: that is universal. And that is a thing of beauty.”Aaron Moulton, Curator

Venus is pleased to present Cutaways, an exhibition of new work by Holton Rower. In this body of work, Rower applies layer upon layer of paint in a rigorously designed order onto a base. After the paint has built up considerable mass, Rower carves networks of intuitively placed marks into the material. These violent cuts reveal the nearly geological strata of his layered paint, which create intricate optical patterns that impart perceptibly changing frequencies to the viewer.

The three-dimensionality of Rower’s floor-based works amplifies their optical effect. Standing like totems at rhythmic intervals around the gallery, these works morph dramatically as one moves around them. The planes and curves of Rower’s forms intensify the magnetic colors and hypnotic motifs and gesture towards deeper and richer levels of understanding.

Rower’s work has long been concerned with notions of accumulation and sequencing. As noted by Sandra Antelo-Suarez in the exhibition catalogue, Rower’s work is “a microcosm of a commodity-based society’s absurd obsession with accumulation. But it is also a microcosm of human desire in a search for connectivity and belonging. Rower’s objects reflect the desires of the most acquisitive society in the world while embodying the absurd human cycle of creating and destroying the very thing we think we need most—social redemption—with the things we believe will help us attract it.”

Insistent that his work is not directly concerned with materials, Rower instead investigates the very limits of materiality, considering just how far particular mediums can be pushed. His work aims to overwhelm the viewer both visually and viscerally, and translate that overstimulation into grotesque and reverberating patterns and repetitions. With the Cutaways, Rower’s preoccupations manifest in bold material form to reveal depths at once rhythmic and surprising.

Holton Rower
Holton Rower (b. 1962, New York) was born into a bohemian family of noted artistic legacy: his grandfather was acclaimed modern sculptor Alexander Calder. Rower’s work has been exhibited at The Hole, New York; Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans; Galerie 6, Aurau, Switzerland; Galleria Maeght, Barcelona and Paris; John McWhinnie, New York; and Cencebaugh Contemporary, New York. Recently it was included in the group exhibition Tectonic organized by the Moving Museum in Dubai. Rower lives and works in New York.

Founded in 2012 by Adam Lindemann and with spaces in both Manhattan and Los Angeles, Venus is dedicated to curated exhibitions both historic and contemporary, which cast a unique and often iconoclastic view on the work of established artists or artists whose works have been somewhat overlooked. The gallery continues to collaborate with prominent artists, foundations, estates, and galleries.