The Wex's summer exhibition features artists challenging traditions of abstract art

Zachary Armstrong's “Noah” paintings provide an arresting introduction to “Inherent Structure,” the summer exhibition at the Wexner Center for the Arts that opens this weekend. Two large, nearly matching paintings hang side-by-side on a wall papered with an early sketch of the same piece.

“I hope this makes people stop and stare,” the Dayton-based artist said.

The works are part of a series (the latest completed just prior to hanging at the Wex) based on a stick-figure drawing Armstrong's brother, Noah, made of Zachary when he was just three days old. Zachary had it made into a stamp and then repeated the image over and over until it was mostly obscured.

While giving the impression of abstract painting, the work was actually “meticulous and painstaking, kind of a pain in the ass, really,” Armstrong said of its composition. That fits with the overall theme of “Inherent Structure,” which pokes at conventions of chance and impulse in abstract work via a “specificity of idea and source,” or “implementation of strategies,” according to the center's Senior Curator of Exhibitions, Michael Goodson.