A widely shared expectation for artists is that they reflect the historical moment they inhabit. But for painter David Wetzl that’s never been enough. Wetzl accepts the notion of a prevailing zeitgeist, but he also believes representation of such moments must acknowledge something else: that vestiges of every stage of human history exist in the present, shaping reality as we know it.
This show, which spans more than 20 years, beginning in 1990, provides excellent examples, many of which call to mind the shaped canvases of Elizabeth Murray and the windowed views seen in the paintings of Lari Pittman.
This back-to-the-future idea serves as a through line. Paintings and drawings carry inscrutable titles that refer to an alter ego (S.C.I.P.), a fictional “wisdom-based” corporation (TAICOOco.) and to other entities whose names (e.g. Synaptic Witness) feel drawn from a cyberpunk novel. If all of this feels a bit wacky, so be it. What saves it from actually being so is the way the artist integrates representational imagery with swatches of art-historical styles into a seamless, immersive whole out of which viewers can extract (or impose) whatever meanings they choose.