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Zoned Out, Screened In

In a post-industrial culture of digital manipulation, reality often becomes an illusion. So much of our waking lives are spent craning towards LCD screens or staring down into the crackling wasteland of an iPhone — little time is left for “real” time.

Eugene painter and mixed media artist Adam Lesh explores this concept and more in his current exhibit “Screened In” downtown at The Woodpecker’s Muse art gallery.

“On some level, my paintings are about futility,” said Lesh. “About the impossibility of genuine free will or unencumbered thought or even real originality within the staggering confines of culture and the limits of human cognition.”

And how could anyone think otherwise in an Internet environment where our brains are constantly bombarded by pop-ups, preliminary YouTube ads and other flicks of cultural sabotage. In his own words, Lesh wants to “tease apart possible meanings” and “reorient these dizzying phenomena from the quick time of bits, to the slow time of paint.”

Visually, “Screened In” is stunning. Each work incorporates mesh screens and the paintings are abstract, some displaying complex patterns; one particularly entrancing painting entitled “Buckminster Babylon” features lime-green, tile-like segments that appear to sputter and fade out over a blue canvas. Another, “Ativan Civic Trench Run”, is an acrylic-over-fiberglass mesh that seems to replicate the pixilation of a 1980s analog camera.

“Screens are a metaphor, a tool, and a source,” said Lesh. “They serve as both cover for hiding and as a crystal ball for viewing the world remotely.”

Lesh’s work is both representational and documentary in nature, yet still art. He draws a fine line between social critique (he’s not into that) and documentation. For him, like most of us, screens are a poignant and perhaps all too dominating reality.

“Screens are both windows and barricades,” said Lesh, “providing access but also significantly constricting my point of view.”
The second opening of “Screened In” begins at 5:30pm Friday, March 2, at The Woodpecker’s Muse, 372 W. Broadway, and continues through April 5. — Andrew Hitz