Several years ago, researchers created a new shade of black darker than any previously in existence, able to absorb 99.995 percent of any light that hits it. It’s surprising that Vincent Como didn’t snatch up some of the material to use in his artworks.
Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., the painter and printmaker has founded his own style of arch-modernism—the wave of art beginning in the late 1800s that didn’t so much demonstrate the Romanticism before it to be lacking in sophistication as it did ultimately overwhelm it with questions about the ability of artists to make an artistic statement at all. Como comes right out and says it: “Is black the radiation of positive materiality, or the essence of negative disappearance?” It has been a question that framed much of the art of the 20th century, and he addresses it with a not-surprisingly minimalist set (“Blackspace,” pictured) that still manages to take on the history of painting, with works harking back to Ad Reinhardt and Franz Kline. This is a deeply philosophical collection, as he combines color theory, physics, alchemy, heavy metal music, religion and mythology in search of an understanding of the interrelation of black, darkness and matter.
Black may on one level represent absence, but also, he notes, “the pure and unrepentant mark of information,” digital data relying on the 0 as much as the 1 for its very existence. As much as we have resigned ourselves to being “postmodern,” modernity still retains its power to haunt.
Vincent Como: Haunting Modernity @ House Gallery, 110 W. 300 South (Peery Hotel basement), 801-910-1736, May 8-29.