Through his photographs, prints, paintings and sculptures he comments on minimalism and questions any reverence to High Art values. He seems to poke a finger in the eye of modernist purity in the clunky but somehow impactful way he works with material, color, form and composition. In all its forms, the work exploits the inherent quirkiness of industrial, everyday objects such as garbage containers and movers' dollies. Beech manages to use the "street found" quality of his materials to his advantage by creating unexpectedly beautiful works from plywood, nuts and bolts, rubber mats, industrial glues and enamel paints. By employing processes like sawing, fastening, rotating, pressing and dipping he pulls off a cultivated grace bred from a unique way of merging formal concerns of 20th Century minimal art with utilitarian design seen in the urban landscape.
In his first exhibition at the gallery, Beech will focus on new Glue Paintings and a series of monoprints, among other works. The Glue Paintings, the first of the group dating back to 1993, consist of repeatedly applied layers of glue on a wooden rectangular support panel. The elevation of a material that usually serves as a bond between other materials, to the position of being the visible face of a work, adds to the works' sense of exposure and intimacy. These recent Glue Paintings have paint mixed in together with the glue, enabling the works to entertain the role of color field paintings. However, upon closer viewing of the surfaces, imperfections such as brush hairs and studio grit return these works to a state of materiality; the glue enhancing an examination of the impurity of the process by which the paintings are made.
The works on paper included in the exhibition are made by transferring paint from acrylic sheets of various sizes, used in combination to create flat forms through a hand-pressed printing method. The compositions are not predetermined, but rather arrived at through a build up of printed color rectangles until the work comes together as a single configuration with incidental marks from the process remaining evident.
Different from other historical reductivist positions such as Judd and Lewitt Beech does not detach himself and his work from the everyday stuff he works with - it is altered during the working process but remains visible as what it was. In this way he manages to initiate an osmosis between life and art rendering both not the same but inseparable.
John Beech, born 1964 in Winchester, UK has lived in New York for many years. His work was shown amongst other venues at Stiftung für konkrete Kunst, Reutlingen (2015); Haus der Kunst – St. Joseph in Solothurn, Switzerland (2014); Portland Art Museum, Portland (2011); San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco (2011); Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2004).