Art League Houston (ALH) is proud to present Maintenance, an exhibition of new paintings on canvas and paper by Brooklyn and Houston based Artist, Charis Ammon. Recognized for her thick, tactile and gestural application of paint, Ammon focuses on seemingly quotidian subject matter seen throughout our everyday lives. From disheveled construction scenes to barriers and maintenance sites, Ammon’s paintings create a visual record of our surroundings and instances we encounter daily that may otherwise go unnoticed. Ammon walks through the city collecting hundreds of photographs as source material for her work. The confidence and behavior of her marks and brushstrokes give these paintings a monumental quality, despite their small scale and commonplace imagery, presenting them as extraordinary visions of contemporary, urban life. The works in this exhibition feature city scenes in Houston and Brooklyn. Concurrently, Inman Gallery, Houston, TX, will feature a selection of recent, larger paintings by the artist.
Ammon states, “I am interested in the rhythm and cadence of the city space and how interruptions impact that space. Construction sites build rerouting systems for pedestrians and cars. These temporary structures bordering construction sites and public space hold a curious authority. I find myself drawn to the boundaries, pits and heaps of construction sites, finding an entanglement of the physical and psychological world in these scenes. I am investigating these scenes of construction as a physical, social, and political material through painting. The sculpting of curbs and sidewalks, the scraping, smoothing and patting of wet concrete to form paths feels like a parallel to my brush on the canvas – the contact of the workers trowel on the wet concrete with quick, gestural motions and slow, measured marks. My brushstrokes reveal my doubt, my joy, and my curiosity. The construction workers are the menders of the city, the caretakers of our urban environment.”
There is a sense of intimacy to Ammon’s paintings of the construction and maintenance sites encountered on her walks. She asks us, as viewers, to take a closer look, both visually and intellectually to the scenes around us and the laborers that live out their lives in these compositions. In this sense, Ammon’s work brings to mind masters of the nineteenth century, such as Courbet and his iconic Stone Breakers, or the later Diego Rivera and his frescoes depicting labor and the working class of the twentieth century. Ammon is similarly interested in labor and concepts of social realism. These currents dominate her inquiries into the sites she paints, and her interest is not so much in our building of “new” infrastructure and buildings, but in the repairs and unending construction that surrounds us. We are forever in a state of demolition, re-construction and progress.
“I was born into the ubiquitous world of concrete, where remedial construction is the norm. I do not see many new roads being made; instead I see roads being patched and widened. The mending feels as though we are always behind on delivering necessity. The city is in a constant state of flux, which brings with it a lack of clarity on what is need and what is desire. So instead of this being a glory of construction,” states Ammon. “It is more of an inquiry into what this work reflects.”
ALH extends our gratitude to Inman Gallery, Houston, TX, for their support of this exhibition.