Andy Wing first came to Laguna Beach in 1957, and has been a constant presence in the city, and in its art scene, since his arrival. Wing is one of a small group of artists in the region to have had a tremendous impact on local culture. This exhibition, The Chances of Andy Wing, was a small selection of the artist’s work from the last fifty years.
Andy Wing has always been a maverick. Locating the artist’s work in terms of art history is tricky, given the fact that he has clearly taken his own path without much regard to the tastes of the time. Ultimately, his work is informed by Surrealism (in its use of the unconscious and chance operations) and Abstract Expressionism (through his interest in action painting). Aspects of Wing’s work can easily be likened to that of such Los Angeles artists as George Herms, Edward Kienholz, and Sam Francis.
To most Abstract Expressionists, the process of painting, the act, is paramount to the work. Within that process, Wing also incorporates chance, but a particular kind of chance. Wing is never more satisfied than when nature intervenes in a work, and he affords nature every opportunity to do so by frequently painting out of doors in the woods around his studio. Pools of paint, blustery winds, debris from the eucalyptus trees, all leave their mark on the work, frequently indicating to Wing when to start, stop, embellish, slow down, speed up, or wait. Paint is poured onto the surface of the canvas, then gravity and the heat from the sun conspire to form the look of the piece.
However, these delicate and tenuous marks, the remnants of chance and nature, are not only cultivated by Wing, but are given physical support. Frequently the artist crafts armatures that incorporate wood scraps, tree branches, pottery, etc., which are generally bound together by a special medium of his invention called plastic maché (consisting of latex paint, sawdust, and sand) to create solid three-dimensional structures. Abandoning the conventions of painting, Wing’s work from the 1950s through the 1980s, take on an increased sculptural presence, often permeating the space around them.
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