Jeff Elrod

Echo Paintings

Nov 29 — Feb 17 2013



The Journal Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Jeff Elrod "Echo Paintings." This is Elrod's first solo exhibition with the gallery.

Having spent the past five years living and working in Marfa, Texas, Elrod's "Echo Paintings" look to digital tools as a means to influence and produce works which reflect the sparse physical landscape in which they were created. Based on sketches made in MacPaint and Illustrator, the paintings represent Elrod's interest in creating unintended results through something as structured as a computer and the programs utilized. Edited from hundreds of sketches referencing the idea of automatic drawing, the large-scale works in "Echo Paintings" display something faintly recognizable, such as letterforms that stop short of becoming words, appearing to tumble down the canvas. In this exhibition, Elrod, for the first time, uses large format printing onto canvas to scale up his drawings, producing several paintings that are fully realized through the technology that was once just a starting point for his work.

Jeff Elrod was born in 1966 in Dallas, Texas and lives and works in Marfa, Texas and Brooklyn, New York. Recent exhibitions include “Eagles” at Marlborough, Madrid, Spain (2012); “Mix/Remix” at Luhring Augustine, New York (2012); “Letters from the Sky” at Galerie Jean-Luc + Takako Richard, Paris, France (2011); and “The Flower Thief” at Dunn and Brown Contemporary, Dallas, Texas (2010). His work is included in the permanent collections of The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota; The Hirschorn Museum, Washington, D.C.; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas; and the Houston Museum of Fine Art, Houston, Texas.

New York Magazine

Critic's Pick

By Jerry Saltz, ill.
December 10, 2012

Mea Maxima Culpa

I was wrong about Jeff Elrod—way wrong. In 2000, when he showed his new paintings with marks seemingly made by computer-mouse movement, reproducing mechanical effects and odd glitches, I thought his work was gimmicky, slight, simple. Sure to fade. Since then, I’ve seen that not only was he ahead of the painterly curve; his work is captivating, smart, and challenging. His new paintings involving some of the same issues are carried to new levels of optical delight and cerebral accomplishment. I’m glad he and others didn’t listen to me.

New York Times

Art in Review

By Roberta Smith, ill.
March 7, 2013

Jeff Elrod "Nobody Sees Like Us"

MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center

Through April 1

“Nobody Sees Like Us” is the emphatic title of Jeff Elrod’s marvelous and elucidating little exhibition at MoMA PS1. Those four words conjure a world of distinctly human possibility—of memory, pleasure and responsibility—that resonates richly, especially if you define “sees” as not just the visual act, but also as understanding.

The four paintings in Mr. Elrod’s show, however, stick strictly to the visual, making the act of seeing uncommonly visceral. Measuring at least seven feet high, they depart from his characteristic off-kilter geometries, which he plots on a computer and transposes to canvas by hand. (Such works were seen in a beautiful exhibition last fall at The Journal Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.)

These newer paintings are worked up from hundreds of free-form computer drawings and printed rather than hand-painted: they present all-over surfaces of soft, smoky wafts of green, brown or gray in fuzzy, camouflagelike patterns that staunchly refuse to come into focus. Installed one to a wall in a small, pristinely white gallery, they form a unified environment notable for its visual crossfire.

The motifs are a bit like moiré patterns without the lines, and make the eyes tingle, as if Mr. Elrod wanted people to experience sight in its most basic, physical terms. Some might say they parody what Clement Greenberg called the visual “presence” of great paintings; presence here is almost automatic, an unavoidable fact—thrilling in the way roller coaster rides are.

The text accompanying the show notes that Mr. Elrod was inspired by Brion Gysin’s “Dream Machine,” a small chamber in which oscillating light frequencies were to be experienced with the eyes closed, as patterns on the eyelids. This makes sense, as does seeing them as last-minute, loose-limbed additions to the history of Op Art.

Wall Street Journal

By Mary M. Lane, ill.
October 22, 2013

From Doodles, a Hot Artist

LONDON—Thirteen years ago, Brooklyn-based artist Jeff Elrod felt on top of the art world: After a prestigious exhibition in the tiny artists' commune of Marfa, Texas, he was scooped up by power dealer Pat Hearn and given a solo show at her New York gallery.

Then, Ms. Hearn died of cancer in August 2000 at age 45, leaving Mr. Elrod rudderless without gallery representation.

"The person who was my whole comfort blanket was gone," says Mr. Elrod, 47. "So I ended up going back to Marfa, playing pool and drinking."

Now, the former recluse is resurfacing in both New York and London as the newest member of a group of buzzy artists employing digital manipulation to create abstract art.

In his first show with Simon Lee Gallery that opened last week in London and ends Nov. 23, Mr. Elrod is presenting 11 works created through various techniques of digital manipulation that are transferred onto canvas.

In "Orange Julius," a 6-foot by 5-foot acrylic and spray paint work on canvas, white squiggles of two different sizes sprawl across a citrus-colored background. In "I Can't See Neon," chunky white and gray lines swirl around on a light gray canvas.

Mr. Elrod invented his "convoluted process" in 1996 at the Houston Chronicle, where he worked as a night-shift technician in charge of laying photos onto the paper's final version. Often bored, he took advantage of the "gold mine" of colored ink jets to print out doodles he made on an old-school digital drawing program.

At first, the process was simply a comforting hobby.

"I had this total feeling of warmth and security looking at that computer screen, as if I was a kid sitting in the basement on a bean bag playing video games with my parents upstairs," said Mr. Elrod, calling himself an "obsessive" fan of first-generation video games like Pong and the Atari series.

Soon, Mr. Elrod realized his love for "totally minimal, terse, abstract lines" could be used to create art. He began projecting images of the computer-made squiggles onto canvas, tracing them with paint brushes or spray cans. It's a method he still uses today.

Mr. Elrod's self-described "re-breakthrough" came after a show at Brooklyn's Journal Gallery last winter. Journal specializes in mid-career or emerging artists who often get lost in the frenetic, fickle pace of the contemporary art market, where careers are frequently made and then broken within months.

"A lot of artists these days have one big moment early on and then they fizzle out," says Michael Nevin, a Journal Gallery co-director.

Collector Richard Chang, who sits on the board of MoMA PS1, saw the Journal show and organized a PS1 show for Mr. Elrod that ran from January to April this year. It boosted his reputation among art world intellectuals.

Mr. Chang, who put his newly acquired painting by Mr. Elrod into the PS1 show, says much of Mr. Elrod's newfound popularity is because digitally manipulated art has existed long enough that it now seems a legitimate form. Similarly, photography was scorned in the high-end art world until decades after its invention.

Simon Lee has just finished selling Mr. Elrod's 11 new works to private collectors and institutions for between $50,000 and $70,000, paring down the buyers from a group of about 300.

It's a roughly 170% price jump in 10 months for Mr. Elrod, whose five works at the Journal Gallery sold for between $18,000 and $35,000, a "slow burn" that required persistence to find buyers, said Mr. Nevin.

In the highly speculative contemporary art world, artists with easily recognizable styles like Mr. Elrod's are particularly prone to "flipping," when opportunists buy work of trending artists and trade it at auction to make a quick profit.

Mr. Lee, a high-end dealer of ultra-contemporary art in London, says he has had to protect similar artists such as Christopher Wool and Matias Faldbakken from the auction houses

"We've been careful to keep the lid on things," he said of Mr. Elrod's limited supply of work sold through the gallery.