STACKING UP ADDING UP
Paintings by Ward Schumaker
March 2nd – April 13th 2018
Painter, Illustrator and bookmaker, Ward Schumaker creates intimate compositions that derive meaning from memory, dream-scape, and literary sources. Earlier in his life he gained recognition illustrating for such clients as The New York Times, Hermès, United Airlines, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Figaro, The New Yorker and Japanese Esquire.
But his true passion always centered on painting and during those years he secretly worked on fine art. It was in 2003, in a class at the San Francisco Center for the Book, that Schumaker first experimented with mixing bookbinding paste with acrylics to create hand-painted, one-of-a-kind books. The resulting work caught the eye of a Shanghai gallerist who offered to show the pages, unbound, as paintings for the wall. The work evolved and grew and has since drawn attention from many in the art world—finding its way into numerous private and public collections in the form of paintings, sculpture and books.
Employing text, cut paper, and gestural brush strokes, Schumaker’s work can be read as related to the work of Terry Winters, Cy Twombly, and Anselm Keifer. He enjoys the hard, tactile surface that the medium of paste and acrylic lends to his work, stating that its unpredictability adds an element of uncertainty which he finds necessary as a catalyst for breaking new ground. Through the abstract brushwork and incorporated text, a quiet, private space is presented, often harkening back to his childhood on the Nebraska prairie, provoking intriguing, intimate thought fields of past and present experience.
Ward will show 16 works-on-paper at Orth Contemporary starting March 2nd. Titled Stacking Up Adding Up, the show features paintings which include stacking shapes, from circular columns to globes to pyramids. The works appear architectural, but somehow spiritual, as well. Some are more linear in style while others lean towards abstract expressionism through the use of intense brushwork. Most often, the work draws the eye upward, evoking a positive construction, versus destruction. A much-needed visualization in a time of cultural dishevelment.
Orth Contemporary will also show three of Ward's hand-painted books: one one-of-a-kind plus two small, limited edition hand-stenciled titles.
At 7pm on Wednesday, March 28th, Ward will speak at Magic City Books in Tulsa about his life of books, art, and about his newest work, Hate is What We Need (published by Chronicle Books).
A reception will be held for the artist on Thursday, March 29h at Orth Contemporary from 5 – 8 pm.
Seldom will you encounter contemporary art in any medium of such relaxed, fearless confidence....Very rarely does a critic encounter new work that immediately rewards a lifetime of learning to look. No one who cares about seeing as a sensation of life should miss this chance to inspect Schumaker's albums."
Kenneth Baker, SF Gate 2013 (San Francisco Chronicle)