Ned Vena - Under the Influence London Tuesday, December 9, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Michael Benevento, Los Angeles

  • Catalogue Essay

    “These kinks replicate an idea of gesture for me. They are strikes or marks across the surface of a pattern, similar to a brushstroke, but arrived at in a pattern that invokes digital files, industrial processes, and ultimately a failure in application.” Ned Vena

    Ned Vena’s signature white paintings are sophisticated explorations into technique and surface that build upon the legacy of American modernism. The present lot, Untitled (2), pays homage to this tradition while subtly revealing the artist’s own disillusionment in its idealistic dogmatism. At first glance, the work seems to be a near facsimile of Frank Stella’s trademark parallel stripes, replicating the minimalist’s perfectionist inclinations. However, upon closer inspection, the viewer encounters a complex network of bleeds, kinks, and imperfections, which create a rich topography on the surface of Untitled (2).
    The Brooklyn-based artist works in the vein of fellow New York contemporaries like Wade Guyton, emphasising the failures in our digital age. Taking a novel approach through medium and technique, Vena takes a critical view towards the contemporary fetishisation of technology. His characteristic additive and subtractive technique begins with an application of laser cut vinyl, a material often used in commercial signage production. As the vinyl begins to adhere to the canvas, Vena applies a thick layer of enamel and carefully manipulates the vinyl, creating bleeds and puckers in the paint. The artist then removes the vinyl, leaving behind the lingering gesture of the artist’s touch. This involved and well-conceived technique is the result of Vena’s early experience working for a sign maker in New York City. The exactitude of Stella’s lines is transformed into a wavering arrangement of light and shadow. This texture, combined with the purity of the painting’s white surface, evokes the fragility of a crumbling Classical temple. In this way, Untitled (2) becomes more than a field of painterly abstraction; it is a prophetic monument to the failures of our modern aspirations.


Untitled (2)

Rustoleum flat white enamel on linen over plywood
31 x 243.8 cm (12 1/4 x 95 7/8 in.)
Signed and dated 'VENA 2011' on the reverse.

£15,000 - 20,000 

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Head of Under the Influence
+44 207 318 4065

Under the Influence

London Auction 10 December 2014 2pm