New York

Amanda Ross-Ho, Untitled Timepiece (5 IN THE BOX), 2017, gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas, 52 x 52".

Amanda Ross-Ho, Untitled Timepiece (5 IN THE BOX), 2017, gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas, 52 x 52".

Amanda Ross-Ho

Mitchell-Innes & Nash | Chelsea

Amanda Ross-Ho, Untitled Timepiece (5 IN THE BOX), 2017, gesso, silkscreen, acrylic, gouache, coffee, wine, and graphite on canvas, 52 x 52".

Amanda Ross-Ho’s most recent exhibition, “MY PEN IS HUGE,” stated its larger-than-life conceit at the outset while simultaneously referencing the artist’s preoccupation with the process of artistic production. For this show, the artist put front and center the oversize items for which her studio practice about studio practice is best known. In the center of the gallery specifically, one encountered the dual installations Untitled Set #1 (August 1–September 7) and Untitled Set #2 (August 1–September 7) (all works 2017), which consist of platforms teeming with huge wineglasses, cutlery, and X-Acto blades alongside standard-issue studio rags and other objects.

On the four walls surrounding the platforms, Ross-Ho presented twelve fifty-two-by-fifty-two-inch analog clockface motifs silk-screened onto canvas, which were enhanced by graphite, wine, and coffee markings. These were made to look like doodles, inadvertent spills, and ring marks left by a (massive) creative type. While depicting the chaotic debris that accrues in artists’ studios, the surfaces reveal a self-conscious editing in their careful arrangement and in Ross-Ho’s strategic blocking out of chunks of text for graphic effect. In fact, the paintings are reproductions of vintage paper clockfaces the artist purchased on eBay, which accumulated markings organically during their tenure as ad hoc work surfaces while Ross-Ho was between studios from summer 2016 to the present. The Los Angeles-based artist produced this suite of stretched-canvas replicas on-site at Mitchell-Innes & Nash this past August, transforming the vacated Chelsea gallery into another provisional studio.

The works themselves are meticulously crafted. The obsessively scrawled lists that fill the negative space between the numeric motifs are, on closer observation, carefully inked. The roman numerals of Untitled Timepiece (AVOID GRINDING OVER STEAMING POTS) and Untitled Timepiece (LET THIS BE A SERMON) are surrounded by delicate mosaics of scribbled measurements, plans, and notes to self. Ross-Ho’s layering of various paint treatments in these works is also deceptively complex. In Untitled Timepiece (REACT AS NEEDED/AIR FORCE ONES), both numbers and pencil-jotted notes have been covered with a fine mist of peach and lime-green spray paint, save for two central oval forms, suggesting that the artist had been using the original surface as a drop cloth. Ring marks slicing through the bare spots and painted areas reveal that the face later served as a coaster. And mustard acrylic paint globbed on the canvas replica indicates a second surface treatment, effectively giving the viewer a glimpse into the production timeline of an undisclosed object, or perhaps several. One imagines the artist painstakingly retracing these steps, taking stock of a year’s work.

While Ross-Ho has previously spoken of a desire to blur the divisions between (indefinitely in-flux) studio work in progress and the finalized piece, this latest suite struck one as a Herculean effort of compositional control and authorship—an attempt to pin down absentminded doodles and index what are normally ephemeral surfaces while the physical conditions of her practice shifted around her. The exuberant final products, blown up reenactments of past activity, evidence her success. These defiant compositions suggest none of the usual anxieties regarding the passage of time intimated by the clockfaces Ross-Ho chose from eBay’s listings and the obsessive lists she proceeded to draw on them. And while the tableware items themselves were vaguely anthropomorphic (some head-size wine glasses were draped with plastic beads or with rags like veils), they came across as less the discarded aunts of poet Dylan Thomas’s childhood, who sat “poised and brittle [. . .] like faded cups and saucers,” than vigorous objects ready for a wash and another day on the job.

Cat Kron