Abstraction in Albuquerque: Six Artists at the Inpost Artspace—more than a half-decade in the making—materialized after a co-curator spotted a 1991 poster inside of a now-closed warehouse.
Abstraction in Albuquerque: Six Artists
March 1–July 7, 2023
Inpost Artspace, Albuquerque
About six years ago, while working for an Albuquerque art handling company, something caught Chandler Wigton’s eye: a 1991 poster announcing Abstraction in Albuquerque: Five Artists.
The advertisement, spotted inside the now-shuttered Displays Fine Art Services, is scant on details. One large artwork image by Rudi Verhoeven. Show dates of January 8–February 4, 1991. The venue: KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque.
Inspired by his archival find, Wigton, along with independent curator Lacey Chrisco, decided to take a current snapshot of local abstraction by organizing Abstraction in Albuquerque: Six Artists, currently on view through July 7, 2023, at the Inpost, the gallery space inside of the Outpost Performance Space. The exhibition, aside from showing abstract pieces that are predominately smaller-scale works, strives to update the voices and styles of abstraction while also connecting to local abstraction of the early 1990s.
All six artists have mounted multiple pieces in this show. The expressive colors and gestures of Todo Eres (2022), a large canvas by Abdiel Beltrán, stands opposite to Robbie Sugg’s Tent City (no. 12) (2017), a gritty panel with acrylic and spackle—the color palette looks like it was chiseled from an industrial workshop floor, sawdust and all. Elsewhere in the show, Sugg displays four small acrylic and graphite works on discarded vinyl flooring that, despite the thrown-away feel, are hypnotic.
The show’s overall industrial vibe extends to bitsy abstractions by Bryce Hample. The artist shows two sets of three minimally forthright pieces of acrylic and nails on wood (2018-2023). The semi-minimal application of pastel-like hues astonishes in slow-burn fashion. (Disclosure: the author of this review has played shows with Hample.) Nearby, the exhibition takes a visual twist with the work of Min Che. Two side-by-side pieces, The Self in Time and The Self in Transience (both 2022), include painstakingly applied, spellbinding acrylic and Korean ink lines within circles that feel both prehistoric and timeless.
Two artists who participated in the 1991 KiMo exhibition also make full-bodied statements about Albuquerque abstraction.
Three undated, untitled, mixed media collages by Lucy Maki, one of Southwest Contemporary’s 12 Artists to Know Now from 2022, recall house exteriors gone askew and stupefy with a marriage of both simple and complex presentations. Meanwhile, Kim Arthun, an artist and co-founder of local art space Exhibit/208, displays a quartet of linger-worthy collages on paper (2021) as well as Landform: Erosion (2018), a pencil, gesso, and acrylic piece on cutout plywood that’s reminiscent, in shape, shading, and colors, of a conceptual Southwestern geologic formation.
Does Abstraction in Albuquerque: Six Artists achieve its stated purpose of renewing, forwarding, and linking to a time and place more than thirty years ago? It’s hard to say. Since details from the 1991 KiMo show may be mostly forever lost, there’s really no sample size to compare in order to make a sweeping, accurate conclusion.
In any case, that’s not really the point. What’s more important—and what the show unquestionably achieves—is that it holds up on its own, no matter the context or framing. The concise and vigorous exhibition, with its no-nonsense, straight-to-the-point presentation, is cogent, gripping, and a dang good show. And that’s what contemporary art exhibitions should be all about.
The exhibition may be viewed during Outpost performances or by appointment by emailing email@example.com.