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Indepth Arts News:

"Syntagm :: Paradigm | Wade Carter :: William Porter"
2002-10-12 until 2002-11-07
Anderson Gallery, Drake University
Des Moines, IO, USA United States of America

Among writers, some search for the mot juste (perfect word), whereas others place weight on the connections between words and the elaboration of syntax. Russian linguist Roman Jakobson (1986-1982) famously theorized this distinction, associating the former tendency with similarity disorders such as Broca’s aphasia, in which one retains the ability to recall vocabulary but is unable to create substantial sentences, and the latter tendency with contiguity disorders such as Wernicke’s aphasia which preserve the ability to create sentences and speak at length in a way that is nevertheless meaningless.*

For Jakobson these were two fundamental inclinations of the creative mind; he associated similarity disorders with mastery of the paradigmatic axis of language and the literary figure of metaphor, and contiguity disorders with the sytagmatic axis of language and the trope of metonymy.**

The exhibition Syntagm :: Paradigm transposes this literary distinction onto the realm of the visual to engage the work of two artists—Wade Carter and William Potter—both of whom create work that has a discursive or linguistic dimension. In the work of Potter (born 1970, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) the structural or syntagmatic aspects of language such as syntax and rules of sentence formation are given full play. He uses the shifting language of form and combines sculpture and painting to explore the malleability and pictorial grammar of the two media. Potter’s three-dimensional paintings investigate the relationship between the work and the installation space. He remarks that "the constructions either resist or embrace the picture plane." Like language itself, Potter's pieces are in a constant state of "shifting, piercing, reconfiguring, and unfolding;" they evolve physically and conceptually through the process of refining an idea. The work of Wade Carter (born 1953, Saint Cloud, Minnesota) focuses on language as well, but emphasizes instead the paradigmatic axis of meaning and metaphor. His paintings reflect an ongoing investigation and manipulation of surface in an effort to elicit content drawn from personal and collective experience. Combining collage with traditional and experimental methods of painting and drawing, Carter creates internally complex works in which the artist’s direct interaction with materials plays a significant role.

William Potter teaches foundations at the Herron School of Art at IUPUI in Indianapolis. His constructed paintings have been featured in numerous exhibitions and reviewed in publications such as Artweek and The Cincinnati Enquirer. Wade Carter’s work has been exhibited at the Dallas Museum of Art and the Museum of East Texas, as well as in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He holds a position at Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas.

* Roman Jakobson, "Two Types of Aphasic Disturbances," Fundamentals of Language (The Hague: Mouton, 1971).

** In the literary figure of metonymy a part substitutes for a whole (or vice versa) whereas in metaphor a term substitutes for another that it is taken to resemble.

Wade Carter
Fire 1999

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