John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava

John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava
John Houck, Wow Mom, 2023 Oil on Linen 51 x 67 in.
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John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava
January 12–March 2, 2024
CANDICE MADEY
1 Rivington Street,
New York, NY 10002

CANDICE MADEY is pleased to announce an upcoming solo exhibition of new paintings by John Houck, titled “Perfect Temperature Lava“, at the gallery’s 1 Freeman Alley location. This exhibition marks Houck’s first show in the gallery‘s newly appointed Freeman Alley space and also celebrates a decade since his last solo exhibition at CANDICE MADEY‘s 1 Rivington Street location.

John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava
John Houck
 The Continent Maps, 2023 
Oil on Linen
50 x 42 in.
(from series)

Perfect Temperature Lava” is the first presentation of the artist, Houck’s, work in painting. Houck is primarily known as a photographer, but has recently ventured into painting. In 2017, Houck presented a new series of photographs, “Playing and Reality”, which explored the subjective nature of memory through the use of recursive processes. These photographs also included unexpected painted elements that challenged the truth of a photographic image. Initially, these painted elements disrupted or traversed the foreground or background of an image, but eventually, full canvases were revealed. Since then, Houck has dedicated time to master a new painting language through formal training and studio time.

John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava
John Houck
Metal Insets, 2023
Oil on Linen
42 x 50 in.
(from series)

Houck’s interest in psychoanalytic theories of memory and the mind is evident in all of his work. He intentionally avoids using photographic images and instead relies on his imagination to create his paintings. To aid in this process, Houck incorporates various exercises in his studio, such as meditating on objects with emotional resonance or invoking hypothetical landscapes from memory. Houck’s artistic techniques are reminiscent of early 20th-century movements like symbolism and surrealism that explored the subconscious, but he also draws from the painting techniques of atelier painters from the previous century. His process begins with color studies and sketches from observation, eventually leading to layering canvases with oil paint.

The artist’s large-scale canvases depict loosely painted natural wonders such as volcanoes, avalanches, waterfalls, and seascapes. These scenes are overlaid with hyper-realistic depictions of sentimental objects from the artist’s family. Erratic shadow patterns add to the complexity of the paintings, sometimes corresponding to objects in the frame and sometimes not. The artist skillfully uses shadows to create a bridge between the worlds of representation and imagination. Within a single canvas, the artist’s use of different painting styles and approaches creates an ambiguous space that viewers may recognize from the artist’s photographs. Landscapes can double as potential dream- or mindscapes, blurring the line between reality and imagination.

John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava
John Houck, Wow Mom, 2023 Oil on Linen 51 x 67 in.

Perfect Temperature Lava cites a conversation between the artist and his young daughter; through this conversation, the artist explores how children can challenge our assumptions about the world. The artwork emphasizes the idea that reality is malleable and can be interpreted in various ways, which is a concept that the artist has previously explored in his work “Playing and Reality.” Through this artwork, the artist uses painting to create illusions and spark our imaginations, exploring different forms of realism such as sur-realism, hyper-realism, and magic realism. Overall, the exhibition showcases the artist’s skill in using painting as a means to express his ideas and challenge our understanding of the world.

John Houck: Perfect Temperature Lava opens on January 12th until March 2nd 2024 at CANDICE MADEY

©2023 John Houck

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