Tom Lieber

Zero Gravity
October 2 — November 1, 2014

Thick Grey Shield, 2014 I Oil on canvas I 60 x 48 inches
Thick Grey Shield, 2014 I Oil on canvas I 60 x 48 inches

Dolby Chadwick Gallery is pleased to announce Zero Gravity, a solo exhibition of new works by Tom Lieber. The paintings to be exhibited will offer viewers the opportunity to appreciate and compare several of the artist’s recent creative trajectories. 

The first cohort of abstract paintings spotlights Lieber’s interest in linear mark making. In Thick Gray Shield (2014) and Ochre Sprout (2013), for example, overlapping lines unravel across the canvas in spontaneous bursts of seemingly sourceless energy. Lieber started this particular body of work last summer after deciding to revisit a handful of older paintings. The process of going back in and adding new linear structures over the flatter, more diffuse underpaintings provided a fresh direction for these otherwise unfinished works. More specifically, Lieber’s interventions allowed him to move beyond his primary emphasis on color and tonal contrasts and instead explore contrasts between areas of differing weight, precision, depth, and scale. How do these spaces, conceived of in three-dimensional terms, interact with and impact one another? 

Despite Lieber’s newfound emphasis on spatial diversity, relationships between color continue to play a central role in his paintings. When Lieber first moved to Los Angeles from Kauai several years ago, he found it difficult to adjust to life in the city. Its negative characteristics—the runaway affluence, waste, and pollution—overwhelmed his perspective for upwards of a year until he was able to embrace a more optimistic outlook. “Split” paintings such as Black/White Center (2013) act as a proxy for this transition. Here, lines of color produce different effects as they move from the black half to the white half of the compositions. The intensity and richness of the color against the black background proved especially illuminating for Lieber in that it solidified his belief in the value of experiencing moments of darkness.

The structural underpaintings of these aforementioned works are similar to those found in a third group that emphasizes weightier, more independent forms. Many of these forms are spade-like in shape, reminiscent of a human torso or the silhouette of a tree mushrooming toward sunlight. Their curved flights parallel Lieber’s interest in the act of dropping and rebounding in the way a surfer cascades down, through, and back up the barrel of a wave. The physical experience of dropping offers an intense thrill, but also a sense of peace produced by the feeling of weightlessness. When Lieber paints, he attempts to occupy a mental space akin to dropping wherein he’s both in the heart of the energy but also detached, enabling him the freedom and confidence to respond to the balance of his mark making as he works. 

Tom Lieber was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1949. He earned his B.F.A. in 1971 followed by his M.F.A. in 1974 from the University of Illinois. In addition to showing across North America and Europe, his work can be found in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Guggenheim Museum of Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Tate Gallery, London. In 1975, Lieber was honored with a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts. This will be Lieber’s third solo exhibition at the Dolby Chadwick Gallery.