Steuart Pittman + John Pittman: Woods

January 16 – March 13, 2021

Traywick Contemporary is pleased to announce Woods, an exhibition featuring new work by father and son artists, John Pittman and Steuart Pittman. A lifelong exchange of art and ideas comes together in its West Coast debut for our first exhibition of 2021.

The exhibition title, Woods, refers to the actual and metaphorical spaces that the Pittmans have shared over the years – moments where they experience beauty through fleeting encounters at unexpected times and places. Their close contact and ongoing influence in each other’s lives, in and out of the studio, is something in which they both take pride. It is evident not only in their aesthetic similarities but also in their mutual embrace of life interwoven with the making and experiencing of art.

Steuart Pittman sees painting as an extension of experience. In his practice, this takes shape as meditations on core ideas that recur through an evolving vocabulary of elemental forms. Many of the shapes that populate his work seem to be geometric in origin, with hard edges clearly delineating form from its color field background. However the visual cues, with hints in the titles, stem from Pittman’s daily life both inside and outside the studio—including but not limited to 1950s guitar colors, California skate and surf culture, and the architecture of his Oakland neighborhood. The deliberately asymmetric shapes and distinct hand-crafted frames of his pieces are a nod to the looseness and humor of a seemingly formal approach.

John Pittman’s work is likewise the result of experience, but it is shaped by the formal certainty of a straight line and assurance of symmetric shapes. “Within the realm of geometric abstraction there seem to be relationships that are uniquely pleasing and correct. My compositions are more the product of intuition than calculation, yet the balances achieved are delicate and true.” Closer observation of his careful constructions reveals the activated surfaces of irregular, incised marks. This subtle layering of the artist’s hand and delicate disruption of the painted surfaces are counter points to the calculated geometry of his unique brand of abstraction.

Both Pittmans have a rigorous and open studio approach, citing Josef Albers as a great influence. They each use contrasting gradients and considered palettes that illustrate color as subjective as well as crucial to the experience of viewing. Each artist also describes their work as “painted objects,” with the acts of painting and construction considered interchangeable, indistinguishable pursuits through a meticulous craftsmanship. These, among many shared beliefs about both art and life, keep the two in close contact as they support each other on their enduring artistic paths.

Born and raised in the Midwest, Steuart Pittman currently lives and works in Oakland, CA. He received an MFA from Mills College in 2009, along with the esteemed Jay DeFeo MFA award.

John Pittman was born in Detroit and currently lives in the Chicago metropolitan area. He received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1973.

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