Mark Dagley’s visually dazzling, exploratory abstract art has been exhibited in New York and internationally since the mid-1980s. This Kent Place Gallery exhibition is a carefully selected timeline, including strong pieces from all periods, reaching back to a few very early works from 1976 and concluding with recent paintings. (To coincide with this overview, Minus Space gallery in Brooklyn will open an exciting show of Dagley’s newest works, called “Structural Solutions.” The Minus Space exhibition runs September 7 – October 27.)
In the paintings, works on paper and sculptures at Kent Place, one can see Dagley developing a wide range of artistic possibilities, including hallucinatory optical and retinal color effects, intense patterns, contradictory painterly spaces and geometric constructions. There is a through-line of abstraction and of surprising wit and inventiveness, evidence of a rigorous and playful sensibility linking all the objects on view. One of the most striking pieces in the show is a chunky, stacked “ziggurat” from the mid-eighties that seems to be both a sculpture and a painting. Its squat monumentality and position on the floor say sculpture—sculpture that refers to architecture. Its black, reflective surface is lush and slick, almost reading as standing liquid. This surface is clearly a poured paint film, and the stretched canvas visible on the sides of each of the object’s “steps” further links it to traditions of painting in general, and to other black paintings in particular. One can think of Stella’s “pin stripe” paintings, or of the black square images of Malevich. The glossy surface and simplified formal progressions in such works by Dagley also resemble early video game icons, introducing a flavor of the digital. The condensation of these implications and more into this elegant self-contained object has unusual humor and poetry.
Gallery Director Ken Weathersby stated, “I am very excited to be able to present this show at Kent Place. Mark Dagley is a significant artist, someone whose achievement and ongoing uncompromised creativity I greatly admire.” Weathersby continues, “When we first discussed the possibility of his exhibiting here, it was his idea to do a chronological overview. What could be better in a school setting, for young artists to see, than a record of someone creating, developing and experimenting over three and a half decades? We included a group of working drawings as well as finished pieces. Mark’s thinking is present in all of this, but seeing his process and notes to himself in the drawings gives a peek behind the curtain to some of how he gets there, which will be great for my students. This is also a show that contemporary artists will want to see. I can think of many active painters in New York (myself included) who can be informed by it.”
Mark Dagley was born in Washington, D.C., and lives in Jersey City, NJ. Venues for his recent New York solo shows include Minus Space, and Up & Co. He has shown extensively in the U.S. and Europe since the mid-1980s, including many important solo and group exhibitions, and is included in many major public and private collections.
Kent Place Gallery is on the campus of Kent Place School, 42 Norwood Avenue, Summit, NJ. Gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information call (908) 273-0900, or visit www.kentplace.org