Design can be defined as producing specific results that address a determined need, conveyed in the most concise and direct manner possible. The language of design is seductive for its rationality, yet fundamentally lacks the humor, invention, and criticality that distinguishes a painting from an advertisement, or a sculpture from an imposition. In contrast, a crucial function of art is to communicate in a language without rules. Giving speech to the speechless spurs an infinite cycle of creation and inspiration where the limits of accepted terms, familiar and invented signs are constantly redefined. In abstraction the practicality of the grid, visually pleasing patterns, primary elements and the expectations of formalism are a logic to operate with and against. Captivated by this timeless and unending dance, the artists in Logical Conclusions borrow and obscure the aesthetics of design to reveal the beauty in precarity.
A hybridized mechanical and organic approach is apparent in Nina Bovasso's paintings and works on paper of sturdy geometry and ebullient flora, where a slipped curve is a leaf, a stem, or an arc stretching to a line that bends to a grid. For Bovasso, the stain is poetic, the spill ecstatic, and the composition is most interesting where order falters. Questioning the rigidity of abstraction in design and taking specific inspiration from textile patterns, illustration, and a history of painting, the rules of these genres are treated as pliable material for the artist's exuberant and earnest expression.
A temporary resolve is the endpoint in Kjell Varvin's series of sculptures titled Unstable Variables. Formally rigorous while maintaining the playfulness of their assembly, these flip, quick, yet neatly composed arrangements are built of raw materials collected in the artist's studio that reappear across the series as toys in a playroom, open to infinite reconfiguration and rediscovery. The sacred and beautifully simple rules of geometry align with direct gesture in Varvin's deviant architecture, as an abandoned scrap becomes a prop in the corner, piles of remains take on the cast of monumentality, and scatter is rendered dynamic.
Similarly forcing the limits of gesture and control, hard edges and loose brushwork unite in tension in Aimée Terburg's untitled series of abstract paintings. Pastel lines reminiscent of architectural drawing are applied over wide strokes of deeply saturated raw umber that seem to swallow their delimiters or crash against them, while in other moments these arbitrary boundaries coast and soar over the rough landscape underneath. Vaguely indicating air and ground, subject and background, illusion rests in tension with anarchy.
In Rob de Oude's finely crafted and careful works, order is also never quite as in control as it seems. Beginning with only a rough schema in mind, he proceeds to paint or draw line after line building dense layers that torque and skew as they accumulate. His technique is fine tuned by repetition and minimal, matter of fact engineering. Inevitably during this process the hand stutters, a line shifts, and suddenly the plan is all off. Such detours are serendipitous however, and rather than discard the work, these errs are incorporated into the pattern, simply inviting a new direction. Heavily inspired by the common intersection of art and design in his native Holland, de Oude's insistence on intricacy is rivaled only by an obsession with the impracticality of painting.
The true economy of art is an exchange of invention, where a work is never complete and the results never precise. Lacking this vital precarity, the perfectly designed artwork is too readily defined, a mere sign, therefore functional, and removed from the gift economy of art. It is far more interesting to commit to the balancing act.
Lauren van Haaften-Schick is a curator, writer, and artist based in New York and currently in Amsterdam. Curatorial projects include "Cancelled" at the Center for Book Arts in New York (forthcoming), "Spirit of the Signal," Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery (New York), "Get on the Block," Camel Art Space, and "Matinee," St. Cecilia's Gallery (Brooklyn). Recent activities include the e-flux Time/Store, "Market, Alternative" at Trade School (New York), and other events concerning art and economics. She was the founding director of Gallery TK in Northampton, MA and AHN|VHS Gallery and Bookstore in Philadelphia. Lauren received a BA from Hampshire College in 2006.