Siebren Versteeg is not like other painters. His process is steeped in digital technology and hinges on algorithms and other automated processes, but what often comes out is painterly abstraction. Engaging a wide array of styles—from serene pointillism to absurdist humor—something under the surface ties much of the work together.
Versteeg, who got his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and attended the esteemed Skowhegan School, writes programs that warp online imagery into out-there paintings. These programs draw from content sources like the New York Times to automatically create works of art. Versteeg thus challenges notions of authorship, and yet, is using digital tools to further his signature aesthetic.
At Michael Jon & Alan in Miami, Versteeg is having a solo show that explores the new directions that he’s taking. Mid-career and approaching middle age, Versteeg’s oeuvre still has the popping energy that a younger artist may have. The new series of works is a nod to artist’s career, but also points to a larger cultural phenomenon.
The exhibition will be an exploration of what Versteeg characterizes as a mid-point between the physical and the virtual—our current moment in time where we see an emerging digital reality pushing up on our physical lives, but which has not been fully integrated.
The works include figurative sculptures made of steel that are connected to the Internet and fitted with custom software made by the artist. These “beings,” as Versteeg calls them, will fill Michael Jon & Alan like a tableau. Each one will be producing artworks in real time—some of the figures will troll the Internet on tablets, while others will create abstract paintings for Instagram, displayed on monitors.
In other words, the art will be creating art, and so they’ll be challenging the idea of just how much control artists (and humans) have.
Michael Jon & Alan
September 10 – October 8, 2016
255 NE 69th St, Miami, FL 33138