If you’re in the Houston area, then Anya Tish Gallery needs to get to the top of your to-do list asap to see their latest presentation, The Map & the Territory, a solo exhibition of new paintings and sculptures by Houston-based artist Garland Fielder. This exhibition marks the highly anticipated return of Fielder to art making after earning a Master’s in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. The exhibit will be on view from January 8 to February 6, 2016
With a nod to his architectural studies and to the writings of award-winning French novelist Michel Houellebecq, Fielder’s new series of work places The Map & the Territory at the axis of representation and reality. Rooted in mathematics, science and philosophy, his work has always played with the phenomenology of expectation – flattening out structural elements to explore the relationship between anticipation and fulfillment, and how the brain attempts to fill in the blanks.
“For the past few years I have been studying architecture,” Fielder explained. “After making art for many years, I returned to school to get a masters in architecture from the University of Texas Austin in 2014. This new body of work was strongly influenced by that experience. Not so much from any architectural style or movement, but more from the learned symbiosis between image making and tectonic making. Playing with conceptual space making, working back and forth from the two-dimensional description of something and the built version of something similar is pretty much the content of this show. Of course, like with all art, the viewer’s head is the final end game of the exhibition.”
Fielder is a process driven artist, first constructing small, stark white topographical landscapes from wood, and employing the sculptures as source material for paintings that are both descriptive and abstract. His methodology remains elegant and refined throughout both techniques. Each segment of the sculpture is formed to rise above or fall beneath a perceived, but undefined surface level.
“My process is very methodical. For my paintings, I strive for a certain surface quality that demands much labor. The imagery looks very simple and parsed down, but to get there takes a deceptively long time,” he said. “ However, it is the methodology that attracts me to the work. I enjoy the process and savor the hours spent in honing an idea/image into a place/mood that resonates. After some images begin to work in 2-D, I like to play with similar ideas in an installation setting. The pull between the surface of the canvas and the space of the gallery begins to dissolve, making the viewer more engaged. Then I usually go back and forth between the different mediums to make sense of the entire ensemble.”
With such a detailed process, it can be expected that Fielder’s work can take more time to create, but he doesn’t put any restrictions on his process. And after getting an understanding of his process and a look at the final product, it’s east to see why.
“[Creation time is] entirely dependent on the individual piece,” Fielder explained. “Once the process of getting a certain imagery or surface quality is discovered, the paintings can go a little bit faster, but usually it just takes what it takes. One painting can take several weeks or even months, depending on size. The installations and sculptures vary greatly. I would argue that a well conceived exhibition should reflect a good year’s worth of work.”
If you’re unfamiliar with Fielder’s work, now’s a good opportunity to experience it. He has exhibited in such venues as MADI Art Museum of Geometric Art in Dallas, the Jung Center, Houston, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center in San Antonio, the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, Finland and the Pickled Art Center in Beijing, China. Now, he’s bringing his talents back to Anya Tish Gallery for an exhibit you don’t want to pass up.
“I have been with Anya Tish Gallery for several years now and have had a wonderful experience with her,” he said. “She is a tireless advocate for her artists and she demands a lot out of each exhibition, which exactly what should be expected out of an artist. I hope to keep showing in Texas and beyond, as well as exploring architecture (proper). The melding of art/architecture in as many ways possible is the grand goal.”