The Green Gallery is pleased to present Eco-Formalism, Trevor Shimizu’s second exhibition in Milwaukee. The work on display spans 25 years of making through a range of mediums. Its continuity rests in Shimizu’s tendency toward ecologically sensitive painting. Each piece represents a choice by the artist to be mindful of materials and work.
Pin Pieces, 2008 and Large Portable Space-Saving Painting, 2009
Some time between 2006 and 2008, I decided to get a studio and try painting again. Most of the work I saw around this time seemed excessive or wasteful. I saw toxic materials and a waste of resources. While working at EAI, I made videos and liked how my efforts could be shelved without much of a trace. I became interested in austere works and minimalism after immersing myself in the Dia Art Foundation program and conversing with Dan Graham. He told me that Dan Flavin considered art to be “minor interior design.” I couldn’t have agreed more and made a few works based on this idea.
Naked Woman in the Forest, 1997
For years, I liked this drawing ironically; I only recently began to view it as a sincere and playful scenario created by my life-drawing instructor. As I sat making it in art school, I was laughing inside as it seemed so clichéd and very UCSC. While recycling and composting recently, however, I was reminded of this piece and how it relates to the more recent paintings in the show. Now, I admire its celebration of nature and environmental message.
Brush Cleaner, 2021
Brushes are soaked in a jar full of Murphy Oil Soap. The soap and paint mixture is poured into a used soap bottle to be filtered out later. Once filtered, the paint left in the filter is smeared onto the canvas.
Scrap Painting, 2022
Over the years, I’ve kept most studio materials out of a landfill and have accumulated scores of squeezed-out paint tubes and brushes with few bristles left. In making this work, there was little intentionality put toward its composition or palette. The painting was determined by what material I had left over. I began by cutting a nearly empty tube of paint and with a worn-out brush, scraped what paint was inside the tube. Filling in the blank spaces and using as much paint as possible was my primary concern. The globs of paint would often crumble off the brush. The biggest challenge was not to puncture the canvas with the hard-edged worn down brushes, and I alternated arms to reduce strain. This systematic application of paint is almost robotic, but the brush work is erratic, as if made by a machine struggling with the materials. The finished product resembles what I imagine an abstract painting, or hotel decor, might look like if generated by AI.