A Conversation: Sebastian Gladstone and Bennet Schlesinger

March 17 – April 14, 2019

Opening reception: Sunday, March 17, 3 PM – 7 PM 

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East Hollywood Fine Art is pleased to present A Conversation, an exhibition of two new bodies of work by Los Angeles-based artist Sebastian Gladstone and New York-based artist Bennet Schlesinger.  

Sebastian Gladstone calls upon the abstract in fantastical post-apocalyptic painted landscapes and bulging ceramic forms. A palpable rhythm imbues his painted scenes, where swathes of red or dabs of green seem to writhe around. While many pieces are a clear nod to the abstract painter Hilma af Klint, Gladstone’s paintings punch up the color, blazing reds and vivid yellows converge here on the canvas. The artist sees these paintings as meditative exercises on the possibilities of the universe. On these planets, unctuous gases ooze out; a pale vapor settles in a coral sunset. Straddling the realms of the imaginative and the scientific, the artist considers concepts of black holes, parallel universes, quarks, and unknown dimensions. One might fall through the gravitational field, descending into his boundless panoramas.  

And yet there is a more intimate narrative hiding in some of these shapes and contours. In one work, a curled-up figure appears to seek stillness and solace on a rock, a muted swell of watery grey paint. These crags and quarries are at the same time corporeal, where nodes and vessels are exposed, splayed out, and delightfully rearranged. 

Bennet Schlesinger’s sculptural wall pieces are a study in the mystery of the covert and the concealed. This series, cheekily titled Possible Blanket,reveals tightly cropped and spatially compelling views of spaces as disparate as a corporate entryway, a brick wall exterior, and a columned public parking garage. Drawn from images Schlesinger took of neon lights reflected in vacant spaces with ambient lighting, these seemingly banal sites are rendered warm and inviting with the artist’s expert filter and collage techniques. The original photographs are printed onto fleece, cut into pieces, and then covered and stretched over with sheets of deliberately cut window mesh. In one work the artist’s signature sunset pink seeps over a façade and in another a blue-violet creeps over an interior escalator. Something sinister hides in Schlesinger’s brightly lit depths. 

These pieces act as views into fields the artist calls ambient static space that are at once imagined and real. The layered window mesh material casts both shadows and darkness, creating a murky supernatural glow. Other hanging works incorporate ceramic frames, further toying with the notion of occlusion and fragmentation in revealing the strata instrumental to his working process. 

A Conversation is an act of communication. Two people make different points, but likewise listen to one another, synthesizing one another’s thoughts. In A Conversation, Gladstone and Schlesinger seem to play off of one another, the overlap apparent in their bright palettes and floating patterned compositions. This manifests most so in their ceramic pieces, where some works are installed on individual pedestals and others are presented together, in spatial dialogue.

Schlesinger’s sculptural vessels appear on fleece boards in groups, multiple pieces clustered together in homage to the way they appear in the kiln before they are fired. The curves and contours of these vessels mimic the outlines and patterns of his wall works, as if also conversation with his own other series.

In contrast to Schlesinger’s sleek vessels, Gladstone’s heavy ceramic sculptures buckle and sag, otherworldly rock forms impressed with the heel of his palm. The exposed cracks record this gesture, a performance of imperfection.They are human yet alien, a physical iteration of his flat paintings, giving dimension to the movement and choreography both in his own painted pieces, and to all those throughout the exhibition.  

Words by Simone Krug.