Charles Clough: The Way to Clufffalo

Charles Clough: The Way to Clufffalo

University at Buffalo, SUNY

Charles Clough Metron, 1998, Enamel on masonite.
March 29, 2012
Charles Clough: The Way to Clufffalo

March 31–May 19, 2012

University at Buffalo Art Gallery, Center for the Arts
The State University of New York at Buffalo

Charles Clough’s experiments with additive and subtractive paint applications are often filtered through an array of media and information technologies. His invocations of the aura of painting and its reproduction explore issues of time, authorship, authenticity, and appropriation. The Way to Clufffalo chronicles Clough’s lifelong artistic pursuit that he refers to as Pepfog, an acronym for the “photographic epic of a painter as a film or a ghost.” The exhibition features over 100 collages, paintings, artist books, sculpture and video that illuminate over 40 years of artistic production. A significant donation of more than 400 Clough works to the UB Art Galleries by renowned art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel will constitute a major portion of the exhibition.


Buffalo has played a critical role throughout the second half of the twentieth century in nurturing experimental cultural production from Abstract Expressionism onwards.


In 1974, Charles Clough, along with Robert Longo and Cindy Sherman, was one of the founding members of Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center located in Buffalo, New York. Clough made the most of the raw industrial space by gluing cutout photos of his eyes enhanced with paint to the brick walls to create the eerie effect of people being watched. His exuberance for Abstract Expressionism, however, was always foremost in his mind. When Clough left Buffalo for New York City in 1978, he embarked on the C-Notes, which involved finger painting over his personal photographs and art book reproductions, photographing and enlarging them, and then applying another layer of paint, only to repeat the process, potentially ad infinitum. Working wet into wet, Clough loosened the compositions of art historical giants like Titian into playful swathes of color, engaging in a daring duel with his forbearers, as one misstep could easily turn the colors he deftly swirled together in rhythmic motions into mud.


In 1985, Clough was commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum to create three paintings for their cavernous lobby. His inspired solution to tackling the immense scale of the space was to invent the “Big Finger” tools: padded discs of varying sizes attached to sticks, which he used to spread high-gloss enamel onto large-scale canvases and sheets of masonite. The “Big Finger” paintings, with their cosmic vastness, vortices, and stormy appearances, channel the sublime energy of awesome, spiraling universal forces that also captivated nineteenth century romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich and J. M. W. Turner. They also continue the performative investigations of artists in the 1960s such as Yves Klein, Georges Mathieu, and Kazuo Shiraga, whose intensely physical acts of painting involved whole bodies or body parts to fling or move paint (and, in some instances, mud) around, drawing attention to the materiality of the paint and the temporal dimension of creation through comically exaggerated mark making.


Public Programs at the Burchfield Penny Art Center


Monday, April 16, 7 pm
Charles Clough will present an illustrated talk as a forty-year report on art and life. Presented by Buffalo State’s Visual Arts Board and funded by the Bacon Award Speaker Series.


Public Programs at UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, North Campus


Friday, April 20, 4 pm
The Robert and Carol Morris Center for 21st Century Music presents:
Mario Caroli, flutist, performs Salvatore Sciarinno’s Opera Per Flauto in the Lightwell Gallery, surrounded by the vivid colors and rhythmic abstract gestures animating three mural-size paintings by Charles Clough.


Thursday, April 26, 12 to 1pm
Holly E. Hughes, Curator for the Collection, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, discusses the legacy of modernism in the paintings of Charles Clough.


Thursday, May 17, 7 to 8pm
Charles Clough enacts a performative archeological dig of a Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center relic—successive layers of large sheets of paper that Clough and cohorts scribbled on and variously “used” from the beginning of Hallwalls until Clough moved to New York in 1978. The event is organized in conjunction with the Annual Conference for the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG). For more information, visit:


Public Program at UB Anderson Gallery
Saturday, May 19, 1 to 3pm
Charles Clough guides a group art-making session to produce a mural-size painting using his “Big Finger” tools during a Parking Lot Paint Party.


The exhibition catalog is funded in part through the generosity of individuals. Support for programs provided by Schuele Paint Company, Inc. UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts, is funded by the College of Arts and Sciences, the Visual Arts Building Fund, and the Seymour H. Knox Foundation Fine Arts Fund.


The University at Buffalo is privileged to have two art galleries dedicated to the university’s mission for academic excellence and service to the community. Each gallery presents a year-round series of exhibitions, providing students and the broader community easy access to thought-provoking art, visiting artists and stimulating educational programs. Collector and gallery owner David K. Anderson, son of legendary New York gallerist Martha Jackson, donated the UB Anderson Gallery building, along with over 1,200 works of art, to the University in 2000. As home to the University at Buffalo’s permanent art collection, the UB Anderson Gallery is a museum that manages and exhibits the school’s visual resources and serves as a venue for scholarly exhibitions. UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts is a non-collecting institution that has a pedagogical mission to present and interpret temporary exhibitions that examine cultural and socio-political topics informing current art practices. Its core exhibition program consists of six to eight exhibitions a year, providing a dynamic forum for contemporary artists, as well as faculty and students across disciplines, to showcase research and artwork through exhibitions, projects, and events.


Buffalo, NY 14260
Press contact: Sandra Q. Firmin 716.645.0570 or [email protected]


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University at Buffalo, SUNY
March 29, 2012

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