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Date Minted:  November 16, 2019

Artist Description: We found ourselves staring in awe while our equipment melted and distorted the images. We shall visit again.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

It may sound trite or tired to claim that WGmeets paints with color. Obviously, that’s the primary tool for a massive chunk of artistry, but with WGmeets, it’s a little bit different. This is color not only as the primer or base layer of artistry, it is the central focus. And it’s the vehicle of action. And it is the purveyor of all information. It is the main abstractive element, and it is also the thing that grabs, holds, clasps tight to your attention. When I say that WGmeets paints with color, I mean color is the palette and it’s the subject; it’s the meaning and it’s the allure. In his vibrant and varied paintings, WGmeets employs a broad rainbow of hues and tones to explore contrast, movement, abstraction, and depth. All four of those things are already present in his earliest SuperRare Genesis work, the momentous 2019 work Cavern. Employing a gorgeous and vibrant array of colors, arranging them in splotches and swirls and 3D abstractions, using them to create the impression of chemistry and geology at once, Cavern captures the artist already in full command of their faculties, and with a clearly-defined area of interest. It’s hard to claim that any sufficiently-abstract work from such a sufficiently-abstract artist is “best,” but I’m hard-pressed to find a piece as mouthwatering as Cavern, especially considering its chronological place in WGmeets’ canon. The artist calls himself an Abstract Expressionist, and indeed, the spirit of Rothko and Pollack and De Kooning are all present here, but transported to the 21st-century, introduced to digital tools, and given free reign over a 3-dimensional canvas upon which to experiment.

I’ve always found it somewhat blasé when critics denote an artist’s confidence when analyzing a work, but doesn’t Cavern —I know I know— do just that? Just because it’s such a dense piece, and utilizes so many different techniques, seems somewhat scatter-brained even. It appears as accurate and unflinching a representation of WGmeets’ sensibilities as one could imagine. I had a difficult time at first discerning whether this was a piece of still glitch artwork or even something generative. One can imagine, because of the polygonal intricacy and all those twirling lines, that this piece could have emerged from an AI’s mind. Perhaps it did; though WGmeets’ tags upon the piece say nothing about “AI” or “generative.” That said, an AI assist would help explain how a human being is capable of overlaying so many different textures in the way they are overlaid here: So that only vague outlines of different shapes appear in places, a result of such dense textural interplay. A turquoise color is used for a lot of apparent 3D modeling, but that modeling is buried under hues of smattered red and black and darker blue so that, out of the 3D textures which remain defined, a mess of hard-to-recognize lines and shapes appear, like some topographical map of an alien planet. The red is like a ribbon floating atop the piece, with the turquoise textures like its most foundational level. In places, you can see that turquoise build into small but cascading cliffs, or enormous interconnected columns of smooth rock. Elsewhere they look more sinister, as they are riddled with large splotches of pure black color like shadows on some bulbous rock face. Indigo tiger stripes appear haphazardly, stretching across segments of the piece and interrupting any more defined forms which may appear underneath. There are small, faraway sections of bright red and deep purple, the entire thing making us feel as if we’re in some underwater cave, perhaps, or staring into a landscape we can’t quite comprehend, perhaps because of the way the light shines down upon everything, or perhaps because it’s inherently incomprehensible.

Sometimes, when I change my tab over to SuperRare to take another look at this piece, I become convinced that it’s a collection of abstract 3D shapes coming and going from their overt place within the composition. Other times, I feel like I’m looking at an old photograph, an effect of the colors and the light, which give the entire piece an almost burnt-out impression. Then I see faces and figures emerge, but they disappear again. And that’s what I mean when I talk about movement here. It’s not that the piece is animated, but the sheer complexity of the textures, and the overload of different lines and shapes, means that looking at the piece twice (or more) produces different results each time. You’re swept up in different waves, overcome by different compositional aspects and techniques.

Yet, still the piece contains an overall and pungent air of mystery. This is self-described abstract expressionism, after all, so I’m not surprised that it contains such density, but even still, the nature of the digital canvas is that you can explore so much more of an arena than you can on a canvas. A whole dimension more! This one can explore depth and volume, and it does! This one can explore realistic lighting, and it does! It’s almost like abstract expressionist imagery married to Renaissance painting techniques; a word flutters to my mind —chiaroscuro. There is real contrast here, and not just between colors, but between light and reflection and shadow. It seems a real landscape, though at the same time we can’t escape its artifice. It seems to show us something, but we know that any sense of recognition is a resulting of us projecting. Cavern nudges us to be in two places at once, to conjure two different ideas because we see two different things. And then we look away, look back, and find everything we thought we knew about the piece replaced once again, like ocean waves that aren’t ever quite what they were a moment before, the overall impression unimportant but for what it’s made of.

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