Ashley Busby’s “Residual” is the third in a string of excellent MFA thesis shows coming out of Texas Tech University. Housed at 5&J Gallery @CASP, her work is both made from and evocative of the act of painting.
These abstractions of stretched canvas and the application of paint, dust, pigments, and resins form pseudo-narratives of creation: both of the natural world and in the studio. It makes me recall Heidegger and the “earth” and “world,” but I won’t (can’t) elaborate. Each painting serves as a stage of entropy and ordiny at the same time- a substrate for the action of the studio.
I’m excited by the fact that while maintaining a cohesive body of work, Busby diverges in a few pieces. A small piece in particular grasps my attention -- in “Half-light” the loose bits of canvas look like root systems, a detail that is easier to miss in the larger work (and absent from the stretched work altogether).
The floor pieces are too small to be truly figurative, but they start to feel like a presence in the sprawling space of the gallery.
A piece that stands out, due to its stark difference from the rest of the exhibit, is “Terrain 3, unknown”, a wall-piece that resembles a growth of mushrooms sprouting out from the host. Its drum-shaped surfaces are devoid of paint or any dusted pigments at all, but its shapes are epimone in Busby’s brushstrokes in her two-dimensional representations. I would like to see more of this play of haptic use of representation.
All in all, I am left thinking of Peter Weibel’s comment that “contemporary painting has developed into a vampire that sucks the blood of the other media.” While that’s about of the death-undeath of painting, these works are vampiric in that they hang somewhere in the balance of life and death, birth and collapse. Busby reminds me that the painter can be a hierophant- a translator shrouded and surrounded by the mystic.
*The author's opinions are her own. The closing reception for "Residual" is December 15th, 6-8 PM at 5&J @CASP.