There are far too many individuals to thank for creating that legacy of fragmented corruption and clinically messy geographies, that have brought society into the oblivion of fake revolutions known as Postmodernism. The late Postmodern tendency to defy itself by once again, and again, embracing, and then negating, and re-embracing, oblivion only proves that the various, often fraudulent, perspectives and surrogate manifestations of pluralism are certainly the harbingers of singularity, ‘truth’ and eventually implosion, or death. From these ashes, constructed on the anomaly of redundant discourses still generated by the entropic vestiges of modernism, it seems frivolous to think of an artistic endeavor with the ability to alternate from the tradition of Postmodernism, and by proxy Modernism.

Mark Erasmus mangles this historical hubris into his own brand of pata-superficial, trans-formal topologies. His paintings, like territories, communicate dissimilarity through dissonance, toying with the implosion of Modernist formalism and the death of the meta-narrative in a universalized space governed by networks, isobars, and the relentless mythologies of a few dead men. Erasmus’s work is at once an ode to the meta-narrative, and by default a negation of the meta-narrative, thereby visually manifesting the concept of singularity on the canvas using his invented and didactic materialism of paint. His paintings express an allegory to abstraction through the reality of paint and the physics that dictate the behavior of the surface.

At first glance one could easily excuse Erasmus’s paintings as pseudo-formalist modernist clones, verging on copies of Morris Louis or Piet Mondrian, much like the contemporary work of Sarah Morris. However, one would be mistaken in making such an assumption, simply because these paintings do not conform to the limitations of the ‘new’ or the ‘post-‘, two concepts that have saturated the last one hundred and fifty years. Erasmus arduously infects his brand of formalism through a processed and networked neo-platonic dissimulation, fairly reminiscent of works by Jim Lambie or Ian Davenport. Erasmus seems to play with the physicality and plasticity of the illusory, two-dimensional surface, through the reverse engineering of institutions in color, space, material and surface. He constructs his monument backwards through a fission of formalism and expressionism, physics and spirituality, randomness and pattern.

Erasmus sees color as an illusion created by the viewers reading and understanding of the surface, and in a ubiquitous manner he uses many visual tenets from tradition to execute his highly conceptual paintings. The most notable of these tenets are superimposition, juxtaposition and the repetition of line, either through meshing or cross-hatching, or simply focusing on verticality alone, and layering. Flat surfaces are also texturally built-up, reminding one of the layered artworks made by Angela de Cruz, agitating the density of the surface to the point of destruction, or Shozo Shimamoto embracing fateful, often destructive processes and events to reveal the seriality and conceptualism of layering.

Erasmus’s process easily tricks observers into thinking that his paintings have been arduously masked, when in actuality he drips and pours paint, using no brushes or masking tools, over an angled surface, using his own viscous recipe and chance events forced by gravity and the surrounding environment to create an illusion of the pure and rational image (the horizontal and the vertical). As a result, critics of Erasmus’s work have rehashed that already exhausted discourse surrounding the death of painting, but it can be argued that Erasmus’s painterly approach is more conceptual, creating an undertone that shudders the declaration: “death for death’s sake”. Erasmus introduces a new perspective on the ‘new’ to the viewer, tolerating the notion that the physical make-up, composition, viscosity, and color relations of paint have not nearly been understood enough for painting to merely wither away.

There are far too many individuals who don’t know enough about paint, and those artists who claim to have this knowledge almost certainly fall into that closed box of bogus romantics; the proverbial “art shaped whole”. Erasmus makes no such rash claims; he grew up in a family of paint chemists, working commercially with the viscous material everyday since he was a child. His art making is based on a very real, lifelong experience of paint, quite literally making the act of painting part of his lived life and his livelihood. Erasmus’s perspective on paint is surely an alternative to that overbearing, pseudo-romantic notion of the archetypal artist that many painters are seduced by, which is perhaps why the declaration of the death of painting is so predominant, and critics are so quick to point it out. Erasmus does not even attempt to think outside the box, he dismantles it slowly from the inside.

Erasmus’s painterly background turns the mere act of mixing paint into an organic and instinctual practice. Practices can be described as actions that are learned and repeatable, but Erasmus turns this understanding into a ritual teetering on religion that defies any structure but looks structural. Painting is a natural and scientific tendency in Erasmus’s work, starting with the mathematics of painting, constructing his composition in that voided space suggested by the enigmatic grid. He intuitively relates to the matrix, reading its anomalies in relation to the quirks of his mixed paint, allowing the architecture of his substrate to gradually surface; its irregularities define its logical interpretation later.

Eventually, Erasmus seems to resign himself to the resolution of reality, attempting to depict homeostasis in abstract, visual form. The chemistry of pigment and the viscosity of paint resounds through clusters of color groupings, following fragments of theories and concepts suggestive of Pollock, Itten, Kandinsky, Rothko, and Noland, to mention a few. Chaos and order collide. Each color has a formula, mixed using a universal colorant, poured into a measurement of pure acrylic emulsion where the physics of paint communicates viscosity as the major concern in Erasmus’s practice.

The material nature and physical composition of the paint itself is poeticized and formalized, using gravity and the behavior of paint in relation to the environmental conditions (wind, temperature, humidity). The painting reserves this memory for the viewer. The paint becomes a skin that concludes Erasmus’s practice. The cellular make-up of the paint contains a discernable history sealed in the layers of paint like strata weathered into the earth and covered by time. Erasmus allows painting to exist in the ashes, because there are far too many colors to destroy, making him one of the few divine painterly tricksters out there.

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