Cheyney Thompson (b. 1975, Baton Rouge, LA) has made the technology, production, and distribution of painting the subject of his work for over a decade. Thompson employs rational structures, technological processes, and generative devices as part of “thinking through problems that organize themselves around the terms of painting.” With such a rigorous approach to the medium, Thompson produces work that addresses varieties of abstraction, including pictorial, economic, and technological.
The first U.S. museum survey of the artist’s work, the exhibition includes Thompson’s Chronochromes (2009-2011), which are composed using the color system devised by Albert H. Munsell in the early 1900s. Thompson grafts this system onto a calendar: each day is assigned a complementary hue pair, with every hour changing the value, and every month changing the saturation, of each brushstroke. Thompson’s Chromachromes (2009), depict motifs drawn from a scan of the underlying canvas, merging digital reproduction with the materiality of painting. Thompson’s use of a typology of canvas formats—including the Renaissance tondo—continues his engagement with the history of painting, from still life to the chromatic variation on a single motif. The artist’s interest in the circulation of painting, and the artwork as commodity, is evident in works that comment on the historical relations—artist and market, labor and value—of artistic production, and the distribution of commodities and information. Other works reframe or reiterate motifs from previous paintings, reflecting his interest in the conceptual and material conditions of image production. Recent pedestal sculptures turn sculptural volumes into surfaces. Evading the convention of presenting artworks, these sculptures self-reflexively address their function by presenting information and supplemental materials related to the exhibition.
A monograph on the artist will be published by Walther König featuring essays by Yve-Alain Bois, Ann Lauterbach, Simon Baier, and MIT List Visual Arts Center curator João Ribas.
Cheyney Thompson is organized by João Ribas, curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
About the Artist
Cheyney Thompson was born in 1975 in Baton Rouge, LA, and currently lives and works in New York City. He received his BFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, in 1997. He cofounded Oni Gallery, along with Tim Bailey and Count Zero guitarist Brendon Downey, in an artist-occupied space at 84 Kingston St, Boston, MA, in 1998. Recently, his work has been presented in solo exhibitions at Sutton Lane, Brussels (2010), Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Berlin (2009), and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York (2009). His work has also been featured in significant exhibitions such as Slow Painting, Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany (2009), Collatéral, Le Confort Moderne, Poitiers Cedex, France (2009) Compass in Hand: Selections from the Judith Rothschild Foundation Contemporary Drawings Collection, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009), Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2008), TBA: Cheyney Thompson and Eileen Quinlan, Arnolfini, Bristol, England, and Greater New York, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island, NY (2005).
Funding for this exhibition has been provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the Council for the Arts at MIT. Media sponsorship has been provided by the Phoenix Media Communications Group. Major support provided by MIT and the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT. Special thanks to the MIT List Visual Arts Advisory Committee and the Friends of MIT List.