Coffee Break with Clay Mahn

TWFINEART is excited to announce Chicago artist Clay Mahn's first solo show at the gallery.  Currently completing his MFA at the Chicago Institute of Art, Clay was selected with 50 other MFA candidates across America to feature in the New American Painting’s Annual Juried Publication.

The gallery will be filled with eleven minimalist works that explore fundamental geometric form, line and shape created through digitally rendered “sketches.”  The repetition and order of the rigid geometric forms contrasts the organic incidental marks built into the surface as the paintings are constructed. As a whole, the relationship between the geometric forms create a dynamic visual rhythm around the gallery. 

We sat down with Clay to learn a little more about himself and his art practise.

Silence or sound when you create?

Both, but in general I have music going in the studio. Current sounds include Bill Callahan, Eleanor Friedberger, Pedro Santos’ Krishnanda, Lower Dens, and Hazy Montagne Mystique. 

Describe your work in 3 words?

Simple, precarious, playful.

Can you describe how the paintings evolve from concept to final product?

All of the paintings are graphically considered ahead of time - composition, layout, etc. This (off canvas) is where they change and move around, often with dozens of variations on a very simple composition. The next component is turning that flattened diagram into a physical object - a surface with presence and materiality. There are always dozens of seemingly  “blank” canvases scattered around my studio. In reality they have thick, built up layers of soft, plaster-like paint that absorbs marks, scratches and dents as they get moved about - these become components of future paintings. There is a sort of intentional happenstance that is at play in correlation to the strictly graphic quality of the black and white. I think about the work being fast and slow. The visual speed of the graphic, jpeg friendly lines and high contrast is complimented by the emergence of slower elements like surface, sheen and layers of underpainting - things only noticed in person. 

What is your studio philosophy?

Embrace change and difference. Go everyday unless you need a day off. 

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