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Artist spotlight: Frank Zadlo

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Perplexing, misunderstood and endlessly confounding, minimalism threw a wrench into the art world’s well oiled and momentous machine that was abstract expressionism, and replaced it with industrial materials, repetitive geometric forms and long-winded, intellectualized manifestos. While there is much variety in the contemporary art world today, so much so that a search for a particular and encompassing art movement is akin to searching for a needle in a haystack, one Brooklyn based artist, Frank Zadlo, has re-purposed minimalistic ideals to create work that contends with issues surrounding a contemporary disposition.

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Zadlo received an MFA from Parsons and his work runs the gamut: sculpture, video and prints, but Zadlo’s most engaging pieces are his wall works which pay homage to Josef Albers and Tony Smith, with a predilection to the Taoistic beliefs of Agnes Martin and her philosophically monumental paintings. Zadlo narrowly turns minimalism on its head by embracing the theory of ‘less is more’ but making room to inject jocular anecdotes and commentary on past, present and future.

A work like Tetris (2011) embodies this idea fully with its referential forms and obvious minimalistic tendencies. A sheet of cement appears to be fragile and thin as it’s encased in a sturdy wood frame and juxtaposed with a geometric form that alludes to the popular video game. But, with a title like Tetris, which came out in 1984 almost two decades after minimalism took the art world by storm, Zadlo’s piece becomes a conversation about time displaced and theoretical deja vu -- the forms are familiar because they’re foundational, thus making them expressively recyclable and ripe with a certain kind of history.

As Zadlo’s work progresses, there are subtle shifts in the way he plays with this albeit mystifying time in art history. In a piece like The Desert (2012), a screenprint creates folds and intimate lines in space on an ordinary piece of cement that imply the wrinkles left on a bed’s sheets after a lover has left that place. And, in Interdependent Form (Verticle) (2013) two totemic wooden frames ‘need’ one another to keep a piece of cast cement from crumbling, adding a sense of mutual attachment or kinship to minimalism’s otherwise cold, calculated and emotionally devoid pretense.

Zadlo’s marrying of minimal means with conceptuality create a unique discourse that challenges notions of nostalgia and brings to light an ambiguous literality and mesmerizing effortlessness.

Frank Zadlo is a Brooklyn-based artist who received his MFA from Parsons School of Design in 2008. His work has been exhibited in the United States and Europe.

Visit Frank Zadlo’s website here.

Check out the slideshow for more pictures.

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