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Ron Laboray lets data drive his abstractions.

May 13, 2005|By Alan G. Artner, Chicago Tribune art critic


Abstract painting is not what it once was. Long thought a way to approach the sublime, abstraction is now just another mundane decision for an artist, and is a style that many young practitioners do not pursue from aesthetic considerations. Ron Laboray's paintings at the Peter Miller Gallery exemplify this tendency. Appearing like a series of biomorphic shapes and narrow stripes that appeal on the basis of sensation or emotion, they nonetheless strive toward something different. The artist writes, "My paintings are in the form of maps and charts and attempt to archive cultural effect." The series titled "Color and Race Statistics" uses official data from the Indianapolis 500 to determine the colors and their arrangement.

In another series, what Laboray calls "The Law of Superimposition" determines the order in which colors are applied.

The artist does, in fact, make aesthetic decisions regarding the forms of each painting, but generally he avoids them as if they were inferior to what data from the real world dictate. Even in the ways his paint is applied -- it is sprayed or mechanically poured -- Laboray wants to get away from personal judgments involving emotion in relation to a sense of beauty.  Abstract painting here, then, is a record of verifiable occurrences that have been translated into a pictorial language. If the translation happens to stimulate the eye, fine.

If it does not, there is always the odd data being translated, which presumably will engage the mind.



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