Josh Reames's Evolutionary Grid

Josh and I in his Buschwick studio.  All pictures by Peter Koloff. 

In the past two years, everything seems to have been visually circumscribed to the image. On those two seconds that we spend staring at each photo in our Instagram feeds or the infinite amount of pictures out of a Google search.  Inescapable and inevitable thus, some artists have really used this new way of life to make sense of the madness that technology has created for us.  Beautiful madness, evolutionary madness, but madness nonetheless.  Josh Reames is one of those artists who is delving deeply into that world of images, visual elements, and associations, perhaps adding with his work some order to the chaos of our daily lives.  I noticed his work a couple of years ago, and added his name to my list of the young artists to watch, which I wrote for Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop exactly one year ago.   

In his Bushwick studio, new large canvases are hanging on the walls; some are private commissions, some will go to art fairs in the next couple of months.  The conversation largely hinges on technology, because I feel that Josh has so well captured part of the current cultural moment in his work.  He tells me he keeps thousands upon thousands of digital files that have gotten his attention. Some strictly gathered from Google searches, and the others coming from his own photographs, the simple touch of a button on an IPhone that eventually may find its way to a canvas. 

Josh tackles his canvases using acrylic paint exclusively. There is humor that shows in the works; for example in cartoonish subjects whose faces express great emotion but are still incredibly funny, there are loose metaphors like that of the lime, which shows up in many paintings perhaps making references to an acid trip, or may show up as a double-nippled breast.  There are words that may have come from a psychic neon sign on the streets of Manhattan or from a bar in Brooklyn. And psychedelic mushrooms that made me think of Alice in Wonderland on LSD.

And there is the grid.  Or better said, there was the grid.  In many of Josh’s older paintings, I almost always noticed a grid in the background. A grid that looks as tech-inspired as much as a modern art geometric component used by so many great artists like Piet Mondrian and Agnes Martin. A grid that adds order and logic to a series of seemingly disconnected elements has somehow evolved in Josh’s work to show intersected tubes that look like parts of a ladder.  And this is the starting point where he has now branched out to explore sculpture and to create more grids, this time 3-D tubes made of metal that intersect with each other like a virtual reality that came out of a screen and materialized right before our eyes. The evolutionary grid.

Part of Josh's latest body of work will be shown next week during Frieze in London at a solo booth of Milan's Brand New Gallery at Sunday Art Fair, after that Luis de Jesus Gallery's booth at Untitled art fair in Miami in December will have some pieces, then a solo show at Bill Brady Gallery in Miami in January and then at another solo at Luis de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles in April 2017.  I guess Josh will have to look at tons of images to choose what to immortalize in those canvases. Or maybe not. Maybe it is all mapped out in the grid of his mind.