The first solo exhibition of American artists Sam Lewitt and Cheyney Thompson in Central and Eastern Europe proceeds from the spatial and institutional fabric of the Brno House of Arts – on the one hand it rekindles the interest in abstract and system-oriented tendencies, on the other it takes full advantage of the symmetrical plan of the exhibition floor in the House of Arts. While the work of Sam Lewitt is an intervention into the gallery space based on electric power, Cheyney Thompson presents a selection of his sculptural work in the form of pedestals that he has designed using a parametric computer program, and paintings made on the basis of algorithms such as “random walk” or “drunken walk”.
For this exhibition in the Brno House of Arts the artists created new artefacts or made specific adaptations of existing installations. Sam Lewitt (who took part in the 57th Venice Biennial) first displayed his work More Heat Than Light (2015), at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco, and then at Kunsthalle Basel. He connected customized ultra-thin heating circuits to the wiring system of the gallery; they represent enlargements of similar technologies used for temperature regulation in portable computers, and they “convert” the energy intended for lighting into heat. Since then, Lewitt has displayed the installation in different contexts, including a New York apartment rented through the web accommodation service Airbnb. In the Brno version of the installation the heating circuits are powered with half of the energy available for the House of Arts central hall. The rest of energy being used in the standard way for lighting a horizontal painting by Cheyney Thompson, in order to underline the common character of the exhibition. The second half of the heating circuits are located in the last room of the exhibition, where they consume all the energy and the space therefore is only lit by natural light.
Cheyney Thompson presents a series of paintings created specifically for this exhibition, and a selection of his sculptural work in the form of pedestals, which he first used in his so far largest European show at Kunstverein Braunschweig (2012–2013). The artist has designed the artefacts using a parametric computer program that enabled him to create objects of different shapes, but with exactly the same surface. With this procedure, he problematizes characteristic qualities of the pedestal, that is, its verticality and its function as support for an exhibited work. The height of the vertical objects from his series prevents them from presenting anything, and the horizontal ones are so low that they could rather serve as side tables. Another sculptural work on show is a sample from Broken Volume (2013) that also originated on the basis of an algorithm, this time that of a “random walk” or “drunken walk”, trying to simulate random processes, for instance stock market speculations.
Cheyney Thompson (b. Baton Rouge, LA, 1975) lives and works in New York. He received his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1997. His work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Kunstverein Braunschweig, Braunschweig (2012) and MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, MA (2012). His work has also been featured in significant exhibitions such as Collected by Thea Westreich Wagner and Ethan Wagner at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2015), Abstract Generation: Now in Print, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2013), Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009), Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008), and Greater New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, NY (2005).