Over the past three decades Mark Emerson has refined a practice of combining bold colors and fractured shapes. His works consist of colliding vectors and kaleidoscopic voids that, when churned by a polyrhythmic approach to composition, cleave labyrinthine paths out of interpenetrating geometric forms. If that sounds complicated, well, it is. Its roots, traced backwards, run from Neo-Geo in the 1980s to hard edge abstraction at mid-century to Russian Constructivism in the teens.
noteworthy aspect of this painting is that each of the individual squares can be seen as standalone compositions, much like the abstract components of a Chuck Close portrait; only here they’re rendered in the blocky manner of Helen Lundberg (1908-1999), who, like Benjamin, may have at some point whispered across history into Emerson’s ear.
The remaining paintings in this series bear a closer resemblance to earlier works in which the aforementioned polyrhythms were more pronounced. Like those in Latin jazz, they interlock and drive forward, presenting disparate pieces as a unified whole. The best examples are Touch Points and Just Like You & Me: "action paintings" built not of bodily gestures, but of carefully apportioned geometric snippets – stolid shapes that, in Emerson’s handling, bend our perception of the space inside the frame.