Walking through Portland neighborhoods: parallel streets, directional signs, the blur of a passing figure. What light, shapes, and colors linger in the memory after their perception, flashing up later, only to tether past space and time to the present? And are these afterburns, liminally situated betwixt and between realities, somehow futural projections?
Wade Schuster’s oil paintings in /trəˈvərs/ instantiate what philosopher and literary critic Walter Benjamin understood as the “dialectical image”—an image that conjures a “phenomenon” of fragmented history or memory in the present. They recur as temporal and aesthetic interruptions that disrupt linear expectations of time and experience. Schuster engaged in a dualistic ritual of walking followed by a translation process in painting of these images of spacio-temporal break-through. They manifested in what Schuster calls “glances” and “stares.” The glances took the form of quickly-painted, small-scale works with enigmatic shapes and swaths of muted color that evoke compressed space and time, seen in passing and remembered in fleeting thoughts. Conversely, Schuster’s “stares” embody large-scale, text-based works recalling remnants of street and protest signs witnessed throughout the tumultuous course of 2020 that converge alongside, overtop, and through fields of color. Recognizable as site and text respectively, the intimate formal paintings and the large-scale text works withhold the fullness of their origins elusively, requiring viewers to imagine the navigations that beheld them and the images of evocation.
-Exhibition writing by Laurel V. McLaughlin