Asya Geisberg Gallery is proud to present “Psychoalphadiscobeta,” the second solo exhibition of Shane Walsh. With the doting love of a superfan, Walsh fills each painting with fragmented homages to languages of abstraction, spliced with glowing reenactments of pop-cultural visual references from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Influences stream by or pop out: xeroxed zines, video game arcades, television motion graphics, and design elements from disco and early graffiti. Walsh’s cut and paste ethos grew out of his experience as a DJ during the 1990’s and his involvement in the subcultures of that era. His manic compositions arrive at a form of painting that is both deeply autobiographical, historically omnivorous, and full of intricate maneuvers and diverse materials that fuse into a melded but never seamless painterly mash.
The exhibition’s title is a compound word derived from the chorus of a 1978 Parliament song “Aqua Boogie,” itself a lengthy paean of funk, and was sampled by Cypress Hill in their 1991 song “Psychobetabuckdown.” Intoned as “psycho - alpha - disco - beta” - we experience an aural incantation of Walsh’s similarly metronomic work. In his paintings, sections activate equally - to build to a chorus of fantastical exuberance, where each phrase, no matter how varied, seems to be happy to share the spotlight with equanimity. Walsh has often used strategies to create effects that appear to be machine made or printed. These mechanical-feeling moments abut passages that are raw, direct and sometimes clumsy. Using such dialectical approaches becomes a way to mix ideologies and create discord in a way that is both physical and intellectual, a way to entertain divergent desires to control, to invent, or to relive.
Walsh is an exemplar of the delicate dance of the generation that can shamelessly turn to a phone or computer to reconfigure, sample, cut and paste, and yet keep true to the physicality and excitement of the messy reality of paint handling. At some points, the two sides merge - for instance where painted manic brushstrokes could easily be a magnified version of the way a finger moves along a phone screen - without refinement, only efficiency. Yet the paintings in their entirety always manage an elegance of execution - a dogged pursuit of perfection in each area, no matter how tongue in cheek. By reshaping existing visual codes, Walsh creates a customized, reinvented, individualized dialect of abstraction that is specific to his life experiences, relevant to his time and place, and gives us an anti-nostalgic way forward.