Ted Gahl and André-Pierre Arnal

June 20 - July 26, 2024

Ted Gahl and André-Pierre Arnal

June 20 - July 26, 2024


In this increasingly artificial world, technological imagination bestows new expectations for the spectacular. But despite the awe-inspiring possibilities of the digital, cyber landscapes can never quite simulate the spectacles that hide in plain sight. For the grand sights of the natural world cannot be forged: pools of crystal water still glimmer in daylight. At the peak of spring, foliage remains evergreen and ever-hungry as it teeters along the precipice of evolution. And the sun, with its radiant rays, continues to cast ghostly shadows on unkept lands. It is from these transfixing views that New York-based artist, Ted Gahl excavates the surreal in the everyday, beckoning a language of abstraction that feels distinctively tethered to the cycles of organic life. 

Across this two person exhibition, Ted Gahl and André-Pierre Arnal, on view at Ceysson Bénétière from June the 20th to July the 26th,Gahl pays homage to analog processes in the natural world but also, within the history of art. Gahl conjures the material curiosity at the core of the Supports/Surfaces movement in France. Arnal was a foundational figure in this postmodern tradition born in Paris and the South of France. From 1969-1972, the bevy of artists that comprised the movement worked communally, defying the individualist commodification of the art object and its maker. The collective unraveled the preciousness of painting itself and instead prioritized material experimentation. Frequently, Supports/Surfaces artists abandoned stretcher bars, examining how bare canvas might engage with lone walls. Other times, artists like Arnal dissected the classic visual plane altogether: as seen across the works on view, the painter frequently folded billowing white fabric into linear sections. He then spray-painted these sheaths of fabric with minimalist geometries. Reminiscent of the concise iconography found on flags or banners, these bold compositions are saturated with striking warm tones.

In this contemporary dialogue with Arnal’s unconventional approaches to abstraction, Gahl turns to the fundamental elements of the medium to erect ethereal figurative abstractions. In describing the visual interplay, Gahl welcomes the possibility of his human figures inhabiting Arnal’s meditative color-field works. The artist strips away the bells and whistles that frequently accompany the surreal, trading in hyper-saturated, electric pigment for hues found amidst the miracles of nature. With peripatetic acrylic paint — applied in sketchy streams and dripping layers — the artist portrays the slippery landscapes of dreams and reveries. 

Across these esoteric scenes, shadowy figures slink through porous geographies like apparitions haunting foreign lands. At times, these translucent beings float in pools of sullen blue water, surrounded by subdued shades of gray and olive. But brilliant light shines from works like “Stuck in Corridor (figure).” Here, the eye traces the silhouette of a headless figure in a green dress: nostalgic yellow, resembling the sepia-toned luminance of golden hour with flecks of auburn, emanates from the bottom of the canvas. Yet, as this warmth reverberates along the protagonist, inky black strokes slither around the enigmatic form, as if sullying the metaphysical vibrance and grounding us back to the hardness of lived reality.  

It is this flirtation with darkness and light, abstraction and figuration, and organic and synthetic, that Gahl recurrently probes with incisive tact throughout this exhibition. In this intergenerational conversation with Arnal’s study of painting at its most primal, Gahl reveals that a return to analog expression marks a revival of risk-taking experimentation: it is to shoot a photograph blindly, without the instant gratification that you got the right shot. Or, for Gahl and Arnal, it is to etch around, fold, and distort blank canvas: sculpting with pigment and water, together, these artists uncover the timeless harmonies of color, form, and composition. 

Daniella Brito, May 2024


Artists :
André-Pierre Arnal
Ted Gahl

Visitor Information

Ceysson & Bénétière
956 Madison Avenue
10021 New York

T: +1 646 678 3717