Summer Wheat: Fine Line – Online Exhibition
Shulamit Nazarian is pleased to present Fine Line, an online solo presentation featuring four new paintings by New York-based artist Summer Wheat.
Fine Line continues the artist’s interest in depicting the quotidian as monumental. These works celebrate domestic labor and bring attention to that which is often overlooked, both historically and today.
Central to Wheat’s creative practice is an interest in line and gesture as key elements to depict emotion and movement. Line is the fundamental building block through which all of her works are born. In Fine Line, Wheat has reduced her palette to key vibrant colors that sit in contrast to a deeply rich and saturated black ground, marking a decisive step forward in the aesthetics of her paintings.
These new works also employ Wheat’s signature and innovative method of constructing a painting. Beginning with wire mesh, the artist extrudes paint through the rear of the screen, allowing a textured surface akin to beaded or woven fabric to emerge. This method results in a unique dialogue that combines the histories of materiality, figuration, and abstraction in both fine art and craft milieus.
The title Fine Line is inspired by an idea from twentieth-century painter Piet Mondrian. Carrying this idea with her for the past two decades, Wheat shares his words, “Lines are spaces of and for infinity.” Her presentation illustrates a redefinition of our relationships to each other, both spatially and emotionally. Conjuring a palette of deep black, Wheat builds an expansive and rich surface that blurs the traditional figure-ground relationship, inspiring a feeling of infinite space.
Wheat’s subjects, always women, are depicted within domestic scenes. The hierarchy of space and time has been flattened, as we witness her subjects engaging in multiple activities at the same time, often stacked spatially upon one another. In the painting Open Drain, a woman bathes, while watering plants, catching fish in a net, and talking on the phone. It is unclear if we are viewing multiple subjects or the same person illustrated over time, an intentional blurring of the individual and the collective. In Open Wings, a woman flaps her arms to mimic a bird in hopes that she might fly too. Seeds mirrors the pent-up fervor of the past year, with figures planting seeds or ingesting them, underling how our actions today can fruit a more promising tomorrow. Her figures and environments underline the banality of the everyday as well as our resilience in difficult times, reminding us that both labor and leisure are paths to healing.
The pronounced outlines of the figures dance with fragility across the dark surfaces in Fine Line, much as the kinetic figures of animation move across pages. Wheat mirrors the action of her painting—literally pushing matter into the space of the viewer—by situating these subjects in states of transition: entering through a doorway, moving in procession, taking flight, and sowing seeds for the coming year. In Fine Line, Wheat wields the languages of geometric abstraction and minimalism to highlight renewed relationships to personal and communal environments, inspiring hope and reflecting on the potential of tomorrow. In destabilizing the boundaries between figure and ground, representation and abstraction, and fine art and craft, her works speak to a new era of emergence. She shares, “Fine Line marks our moment: a space between you and me. We are having to reestablish how we understand and communicate with each other; this is a time to reorient ourselves.”
Summer Wheat (b. 1977, Oklahoma City, OK) received a B.A. from the University of Central Oklahoma and an M.F.A. from Savannah College of Art and Design. Solo exhibitions of her work have been organized at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC (2021); Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO (2020); KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY (2019); Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles, CA (2021, 2018); Smack Mellon, New York, NY (2018); Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA (2017); and Oklahoma Contemporary, Oklahoma City, OK (2016). Select group exhibitions featuring her work include Yaro Pickers, Harper’s Books, New York, NY (2020); Summer Wheat and Hirosuke Yabe, Wasserman Projects, Detroit, MI (2019); America Will Be! Surveying the Contemporary Landscape, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX (2019); The Magnetic Fields, Gio Marconi, Milan, Italy (2019); SEED, Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York, NY (2018); More Material, Salon 94, New York, NY (2014); Expanding the Field of Abstraction, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2013-14); beyond the stretcher, deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA (2013); and Paradox Maintenance Technicians: A comprehensive technical manual to contemporary painting from Los Angeles and Beyond, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA (2013).
Wheat’s work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX; de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; Peréz Art Museum Miami, Miami, FL; The Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA; The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC; the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, KY, and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO. Wheat has received several awards and prizes including, the Northern Trust Purchase Prize at EXPO Chicago (2019) and the New York NADA Artadia Award (2016).