November 18 – January 2, 2011
Ricco/Maresca is pleased to announce the opening of George Widener: Dates. This exhibition of newly calculated works represents the self-taught artist’s first solo exhibition in New York. The artist, based in North Carolina, creates his images from detailed, numerical equations that he both records and explores on paper. Widener is an autistic savant who creates these mixed-media works on paper that give aesthetic, visible form to complex calculations based on the dates of certain historical events—the sinking of the Titanic is one of his favorites. Widener’s drawings feature simple palettes, sophisticated patterning and bold compositions. Sometimes they refer simultaneously to the past and to the future. Occasionally the artist embeds hints of apocalyptic visions in the numerical data and imagery his drawings depict.
Widener, who is known to be a “lightening calculator”, is able to instantly complete the mathematical calculations on which his works are based. “I’m not good at multi-tasking. If I have a lot of different, new things to do in a day…or I feel stressed-out, I step aside and count a bit. It’s relaxing.”
Several of Widener’s enigmatic drawings are currently on view in the exhibition “World Transformers: The Art of the Outsiders,” at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany (through Jan 9, 2011). A film about George and his work is also in production for the Discovery Channel, and due to air in mid-November 2010.
Uncanny and completely unwitting, the formal, thematic, and technical attributes of Widener’s works are both familiar and exploratory. Yet, in the case of Widener’s art, no familiar label readily applies; his work finds a place in any defined art category. In his drawings, passages of knotty, random patterns bring to mind the ambiguously expressive brushwork of some of abstract art’s pioneers. The preoccupation with time as the central theme recalls the efforts of some emblematic modernists to evoke the historic, the heroic or the classical through color, form or scale.