A Controversial Seinfeld Character Inspired One of Ethan Cook’s New Paintings

The depth of color in Ethan Cook’s work is entrancing: It draws you in and then proceeds to work its spell, stirring up meaning and feeling. Cook is known for his abstract “woven paintings” in which color isn’t applied at all but is part of the canvas itself. He uses a four-harness loom to hand weave fabric, which is then stitched together and stretched on bars. But recently, Cook has been exploring additional materials and techniques, evident in his latest exhibition Entities, at the Brussels location of Nino Mier. (It’s the Texas-born, New York–based artist’s fourth solo show with the gallery.) There’s long been a meditative quality to both his process and his output and now there’s a reflective aspect as well — figuratively but also literally, with copper and aluminum panels incorporated into the textile pieces alongside those he produces with paper. Cook handmakes paper using raw pigment mixed with cotton, abaca, and water, resulting in super-saturated surfaces that paradoxically contain an inherent depth.

He’s also added brushwork into pieces like “Hello Newman,” which combines hand-woven cotton with acrylic on aluminum and copper. Not to read too much into a title, but the repetitive brushwork on one side, thick and dark green, does kind of echo the ongoing sitcom rhythms of “Seinfeld” and the recurring appearance of Jerry’s postal-worker nemesis; though Newman also visually refers, of course, to Barnett Newman and his “zip” paintings with their vertical bands cutting through fields of color.

Relational geometric planes — whose edges are often softened and imperfect — play against more organic forms. In some instances, Cook lets go entirely of the rectangular strictures of the typical canvas, embracing floral shapes with acrylic-painted aluminum centers. From a distance, they may look like simple, flat representations of flowers, but up close, the shift in material and color evokes movement from one state to another — and all the emotion of change and transition. Entities is on view through July 20.