Wes Memeger: The Square and Other Concerns

“For me, the transition from science and technology to art was an easy one.” Wes Memeger

Wes Memeger has explored the square for decades. In his early career as a chemist, he analyzed the skewed bonds in an almost square carbon and hydrogen compound. As an artist, Memeger studied the works of abstract painters, reading and viewing their considerations of the basic and ubiquitous shape. He explains, “From the 1970s to the 1990s, while I was still working as a chemist, I read intensely and thought about art matters focusing on abstractionist painters such as Kazimir Malevich, Josef Albers, Piet Mondrian, Johannes Itten, and Franz Kline.” These artists and their approach to the essential elements of artmaking provided Memeger with inspiration and points of departure.

imageLeft to right: Square, Circles, Arcs, and Lines Together, 2019. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on canvas, 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Wes Memeger. Square Dance, 1999–2000. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Wes Memeger.

Drawing from these seemingly disparate backgrounds, Memeger uses the square as a building block, developing abstract compositions that layer form, color, and texture. The artist adds circles and arcs, gold leaf, or fluorescent colors creating works that capture for him, “significant dynamism, but at the same time, surprising tranquility.” Memeger continuously incorporates experimentation into his work. A series begun in 2013 blends painting with three-dimensional forms, creating what the artist refers to as a ziptych composed of two, touching z-shaped canvases.

imageZiptych with Solid Cylinder Plus 3 Open Cylinders, 2017. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on shaped canvas with acrylic and Plexiglas, cylinders on board, 27 7/8 x 74 x 1 ½ inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Wes Memeger.

Memeger muses, “Looking back over decades of experimentation, I find that it has been challenges that have most advanced my thinking and my artmaking.” The paintings in this exhibition are as much about the square as they are about our perceptions of supposedly rigid shapes in our world and their slightly, but constantly, shifting nature.

imageLeft to right: Towards Disharmony II, 2003. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches. Collection of Kim Memeger. © Wes Memeger. Towards Harmony, 2004. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Wes Memeger.

Top: Towards an Eccentric Square, 1998. Wes Memeger (born 1939). Acrylic on paper, 20 x 25 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Wes Memeger.