JM Howey Note to Self May 4 - June 15 2014

Bureau is pleased to announce Note to Self, JM Howey’s first exhibition with the gallery. Howey’s exhibition includes three new bodies of work, two modes of painting: narratives and respites, and the ceramic frame works. Howey’s narratives establish an emotionally fraught thread through the use of a rudimentary pictographic code. The respites feature groupings of similar symbolic icons, their communicatory function confused through layering and silhouetting. The frame works are cast ceramic picture frames that can either be attached to the paintings or left to function as distinct objects in space. Through previous bodies of work, Howey has explored how a subject can be fractured by the painterly gesture; his latest work continues this investigation resolving in a concise visual style. The new compositions push the potential of the flat, white stretched canvas as a semiotic field.

The paintings in Note to Self are composed in Adobe Illustrator and parody the language of layout which dominates our contemporary visual field. The drawn forms refer to Lettrist metagraphics and manga illustration. The compositions are arranged on screen and painted using a cut vinyl mask. An oil paint called Torrit Grey is applied with clean lines and contours that suggest the intimate point or colored-in field drawn by a pencil. The works imply the look of a doodle, laying the artist’s subconscious open for analysis.

The rebus-like narratives unfold with a view into the artist’s anxiety navigating the social context of the art world. In stick figure scenes we see a nervous artist with cartoon hands grasping a paintbrush or fumbling for a wine glass. Alongside these characters are symbols of the environs and consumables of the artist: both cliché and quotidian. In one work we see an anguished young man carving a peace-sign into his arm while an ink jet printer cranks out pages of simple shapes. The young man is not consoled by the cheery bubble tea menu above him, as the punch card from a time clock looms. The humorous, self-deprecating narratives are contrasted by the more densely abstract, patterned, silhouette works, the respites. In these forests of signs, layered shapes replicate and morph, allowing for more open interpretations. Socks, bunches of grapes and melting clocks fan out amidst abstract shapes resembling bunting, large drips and schematized script. These works create a dense scuffle of shadowy icons resisting clear identification, thus allowing the viewer to rest on an imaginative formal rhythm rather than decoding a narrative.

While the paintings play among the artist’s subconscious obsessions and allusions, the exhibition is buttressed by considered formal gestures. Howey’s chosen anti- palette of Torrit Grey is an oil paint produced yearly at Gamblin Artist Colors. Gamblin combines all the pigment dust from the factory’s air filtration system and uses this mixture as a pigmentary base. Each run of Torrit Grey is unique in its chromatic combination and because it cannot promise consistency, it cannot be sold, and is given away. The slight color variation throughout the exhibition is a by- product of this production method. The ceramic frame fragments form a figurative framework for the show. The ceramic shells have a material fragility that allude to a paradox: that any defensive mechanism is ultimately the most fragile aspect of a work. These protective shields, constructed out of brittle clay, reinforce the works’ willful vulnerability.

JM Howey (b. 1973, lives and works in Brooklyn) received his MFA from Columbia University (2006) and his BFA from the School of the MFA, Boston (1999). Howey was the subject of several solo shows at Taxter & Spengemann, NY and at Marginal Utility, Philadelphia. He was exhibited at The Kitchen’s ‘Besides, With, Against & Yet; Abstraction and the Ready-Made Gesture’, in 2009 and was exhibited in numerous other group shows at Soloway BK; Guild and Greyshkul, NY; and David Peterson, MN, among others. He was a resident artist at the Univ. of Tennessee at Knoxville this spring.

Installation view of a Jaya Howey exhibition at Bureau New York with two paintings and one ceramic frame work hanging on the walls.
Oil on canvas painting depicting half and whole pomegranates, some in silhouette, dripping juice and expelling seeds.

Profuse Respite, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 45 ¼ × 35 ⅜ in.

Oil on canvas painting depicting a scene with a headless snake, a smiling cartoon noose, falling and broken bottles and glasses of wine, and a person in a trench coat leaning against a wall smoking a pipe holding a skull in their hands.

End Narrative, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 45 ¼ × 35 ⅜ in.

In a gallery space, a black and white painting is hung in a hallway next a door. Two paintings are partially visible in an additional room in back.
Installation view of a Jaya Howey exhibition at Bureau New York with five paintings hanging on the walls.
Oil on canvas painting in a ceramic frame depicting a large format digital printer in a studio, a circular maze like board game, and a person gleefully carving into their arm with a knife.

Syntax Narrative, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 ⅞ × 37 in.

Oil on canvas painting depicting a pattern of black triangles, swirls, and grapes.

Pastoral Respite, 2013, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 45 ¼ × 35 ⅜ in.

In a gallery space, four paintings resembling illustrations on sheets of paper are evenly hung on two walls with an exit sign between them.
Image of painting depicting an hour glass, a ruler, a sun, a person holding a mask, and a sign indicating the location of a party.

Opening Narrative, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 ⅞ × 37 in.

A graphic oil painting depicting a repeating geometric shape resembling a sock hung on a white wall.

Referential Respite, 2013, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 45 ¼ × 35 ⅜ in.

In a gallery space, three paintings are hung at the same height on a white wall. The painting on the left is white and resembles a cartoon illustration. Two paintings hung close together on the right depict patterns of abstracted shapes.
A close-up view of painting depicting a cartoon Le Creuset pot, a sign saying "Destroy," a paint roller, a hot cup of tea, and a restaurant menu.

Vacillation Narrative, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 46 ⅞ × 37 in.

A graphic oil painting depicting a pattern of geometric shapes on a white wall.

Flush Respite, 2014, Oil and acrylic on canvas, 45 ¼ × 35 ⅜ in.

In a gallery space, two abstract paintings with repeating geometric patterns of indiscernible shapes are hung close together. To the right is another painting hung on a different wall depicting the contents of a phone conversation. The expression "I Quit" is repeated.