Monochrome Painting

Joe Scanlan, 1989

This installation continues Stephen Prina’s interest in exposing and analyzing the underlying physical and financial structures which support the public display of art. Prina’s projects are not critical but inquisitive investigations, intended to be revelatory in ways other than—and in addition to—the traditional canons of fine art.

Monochrome Painting as an exhibition is a physical and conceptual hybrid of sorts, merging a corporate identity design program with the organizational structure and aesthetic intent of a museum group exhibition. Public appeal and recognition of a uniform “look” or identity becomes the impetus and inspiration for creating works of art. This merger of seemingly mutually exclusive realms is uniformly played out in the exhibition’s entirety: its signage and logotypes; announcement cards and catalogues; lapel pins and shipping crates.

The artworks themselves will retain only the original proportions of classic monochromatic paintings by such artists as Kasmir Malevich, Ad Reinhardt, Gerhard Richter, and Robert Ryman, thus referencing the inherent differences in these artists’ unique works while commenting on their continued historical cubby-holing and analysis. In keeping with the concept of corporate identity—while adding a utilitarian and cultural twist—each of Prina’s twelve paintings will be finished in high-gloss, green metal-flake automobile paint. The transcendent genius of the great abstractionists will be subtly questioned, in addition to the high-mindedness of corporate sponsorship and curatorial revelation.

The processes of fine art exhibition are used for the design of a utilitarian exhibition, by way of corporate relations strategies. Seemingly strange bedfellows are exposed as being not so strange at all; they are in fact quite common if still largely unbeknownst, given recent corporate art collections and museum marketing techniques.