Drawing inspiration from his acknowledged influences—the Arts and Crafts movement, Abstract Expressionism, organic and hard-edged abstraction, mid-century pattern and textile designs, Rock n’ Roll ephemera, Op Art—here, Rex Ray presents Discolaria. The title combines the words discolor, disco, and discord, to speak to unification of disparate elements, themes and the optics of the painting as spectacle. Comprised of thousands of pieces of cut paper that Ray creates from woodblock prints of his own designs and found images from magazines the work merges fine and applied arts.
Rex Ray works in a wide range of media—painting, collage, print, performance art, and photography. Known for his pop collage aesthetic the work centers on concepts of beauty, a topic that Ray has pursued since graduate school when prevailing trends ran counter. To achieve such layered multidimensional compositions he works without a prearranged plan or maquette, intuitively assembling papers within the framework of canvas that has been prepared with washes of color. This site-specific commission for MCA DENVER is the largest installation of Ray’s to date and features a continuous wall of paper designed to connect the work to its surrounding architecture. Discolaria was conceived as an abstracted landscape with biomorphic shapes and distinct color combinations.
Ray’s is also known for his graphic design work specifically with Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco. He was an early innovator of MAC-based design technology creating project with artists such as Radiohead, Bjork, R.E.M, Nine Inch Nails, Deee-Lite, and the singular David Bowie. His design clients include Apple, Sony Music, and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY.
Ray was born in Germany and lived in Colorado Springs for most of his youth. He moved to San Francisco in the late 70s working at Tower Records then City Lights Bookstore where he designed numerous covers for High Risk publications. He also performed with and designed the graphics for The Residents. He was instrumental in bringing attention to the AIDS pandemic with the first designs for the noted activist group ACT UP. His work has been widely exhibited at such institutions as San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Jose Museum of Modern Art, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, all in the Bay Area.
Related video courtesy of Gallery 16, San Francisco, CA