12x12: John Henderson, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2011
John Henderson forges an unlikely alliance between industrial production and gestural painting. Using expressive brushstrokes as evidence of the artist’s touch, he creates allover paintings, which he then has cast in aluminum or bronze at a foundry. Merging traces of industrial and painterly production, the resulting works occupy a shifting middle ground between artwork and object, painting and sculpture, the mass produced and the unique, the functional and the decorative—even between horizontality and verticality. These identities are variously tested in this exhibition, most explicitly in the work Three Taborets. With the simple but significant gesture of moving works from his ongoing series of casts off the vertical wall and onto a horizontal surface, Henderson requires the viewer to consider them as painting and sculpture, furniture and artwork. The oil paintings, also on view here, provide a more traditional counterpoint to the critical framework of the casts. With their careful brushwork and composition they stand in marked contrast to the metal surrogate paintings. The placement of these works in the space further underscores Henderson’s interest in the relational aspects of his artistic expression.