Justin Bean


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Epiliths are plant forms such as lichen and fungus that grow on rocks. I recently read the book Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer which features a creature of unknown origins that writes in lichen on the wall of a mysterious tunnel. Something about this painting resonated with the book and brought to mind lichens and other epilithic organisms, hence the title. I have always been interested in both gestural abstraction and hard-edged or minimalist geometry, and after spending the last several years working with clean edges, flat shapes, and lots of tape, I decided I needed to dive back into a more organic and improvisational approach to my work. This painting and others like it begins with a thick layer of paint that I then draw into while the paint is wet. I let the resulting surface dry which leaves a network of ridges in the paint layer. I then begin to add different colors by loading a palette knife and running it over the surface, gradually building layer upon layer. These paintings generally have between 15 and 40 layers and must be seen in person to appreciate the depth of the texture. In this work I wanted to differentiate the foreground and background and used a flat color to bring out the improvised primary form.

30"H × 24"W × 1.5"D
Acrylic paint on canvas


In my paintings I seek to integrate multiple modes of abstraction and create a visual language that speaks to coded networks of information and the relationship of the individual to the wider technological present. Using patterns, grids, geometry, and a variety of paint application techniques, my paintings act as mirrors that reflect the point at which thought intersects with form and material intersects with meaning.

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