WESTWOOD GALLERY NYC is pleased to present Alan Steele: Unconditionally Constitutional, a solo exhibition by New York artist Alan Steele. This is his first solo show with the gallery and includes thirty new artworks as well as works from the 1990s which trace the evolution of his artistic vision. The curated exhibition highlights Steele’s concept of retrieving discarded elements from previously completed work and constructing the remnants of abstracted fragments to solve complex ideas of space, time, and identity.
Steele established himself during the early 1970s as a minimalist painter working with mathematical formulae projected on a grid. Foreseeing the limitations of minimal art and painting in 1974, he started a theoretical architectural project derived from the problem of “what is a labyrinth and how would one design one?". The result was a complex labyrinth based on a matrix, soon becoming the foundation for Steele’s future work and a source he continuously references to generate new structures.
As an artist who has spent much of his childhood in the West Indies, South America and South East Asia, as well as traveling the world in search of rare tribal artifacts and mythical cultures, Steele is compelled to explore the ‘act of being’ in his artwork. His artistry is a quest to understand theories of knowledge, history and the basic relationship of objects and their attachment to tradition, culture, and global divergence.
In his words regarding interpretation and identity, he writes: “Can a work of art survive the world? Can the “act of being” be unconditionally constitutional in an incomplete world? Art is the reminder of every attained mode of organization which man is committed, and through which he defines himself. Consequently art can be emotionally moving. Its emotion is not the primary violence of instinct, but the much more profound feeling with which we contemplate the structural and organized truth. Art can disclose only what is endowed with a prior discipline and imagination. It asserts and proclaims the modes of imagination and the ordered infinity of non-aesthetic aspects of experience.”
The exhibition’s title drawing is a triptych—composed of two containers flanking a large ruler over a plexi panel—allowing for the objective, subjective, and verisimilar viewing positions of his work’s relationships. In the leftmost container, a perforated wall allows for the view of a skeletal arm, a standard unit of measurement for a yard; in the rightmost container, a window shows the hollow interior with the same container suspended in reverse; and in the center panel, Steele places his abstracted language, superimposed by a Ticonderoga pencil displaying a ruler. In juxtaposition to the title drawing, his newest works completed during the COVID-19 shutdowns presents the COVID-19 genome sequence in conversation with his abstraction.
Steele’s work is constantly processing and reanalyzing fragments to present their complex interplay, his analytic eye continuously reinventing a richly poetic and mathematic language.
ABOUT ALAN STEELE
Alan Steele was born in Caracas, Venezuela, grew up in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. He was influenced early on by many of his Bowery contemporaries working as the studio assistant for Tom Wesselmann, Will Insley, and Charles Hinman, as well as working as an art handler for Ileana Sonnabend Gallery. He has lived and worked on the Bowery for over four decades. Steele’s work has been exhibited internationally and is part of numerous public, corporate, and private collections. He is also a curator of South American and African Tribal art.