Monday, April 25, 2011

Full of Gumption: Vigorous Paintings & Works on Paper at ZieherSmith

[“Don Juan & Don Quixote Riding My Horse” (1998), oil on signboard by Kirk Hayes. “Stairs (for Kelson” (2006), oil on panel (trompe-l’oeil) by Kirk Hayes. “You’re Late” (2007), mixed media on canvas by Trenton Doyle Hancock. “Panel Starers Triptych” (2010) oil on dyed fabric by Melissa Brown.]

ZieherSmith presents a group exhibition featuring vigorous paintings and works on paper by Melissa Brown, Tomoo Gokita, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kirk Hayes, Keegan McHargue and Gary Panter through May 7, 2011.

Print maker Melissa Brown’s cuts across all disciplines: Among her recent projects are oversized woodcuts, stencil paintings, lecture performances, and collages made from discarded scratch-off tickets. Preoccupied with what is ubiquitous, Brown’s images put an array of vernacular styles and symbols into imaginary settings. Her work has enlarged the familiar while also accentuating an object’s embedded geometry. Meanwhile, Brown’s performances have ranged from the mystical to statistical. Brown studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (BFA) and Yale University (MFA). She has shown her work in such venues as Bellwether Gallery, Kenny Schachter/Rove Projects, Artist Space, and the Socrates Sculpture Park.

With Kirk Hayes’ work ones eye can play tricks on you. At once it appears to slap torn paper, tape, wood, and metal together. Yet Hayes skillfully applies oil paint to look like something it is not—assaulting your senses with bold, dark humor. Eschewing the mechanical, his present body of work offers the illusion of assemblage—suggesting torn cardboard, rusted metal, wood scraps, and masking tape as painted effects. Hayes’ fluency with trompe l’oeil makes us believe we are looking at tattered and discarded objects put together on gritty, torn surfaces, complete with coffee cup rings and doodles. Yet this is not the case. Beyond his finesse with paint is how he employs collage to defy convention while exploring chance and randomness. Hayes shares the mischievous intent of Dada artists in his faux-assemblages in oil and enamel on signboard. With this technique in hand, we are invited into the grotesque, sarcastic, and even cathartic precincts of his subjects. Hayes has shown at Horton Gallery (Berlin), as well as the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park), the Blanton Museum (Austin), Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and Artspace (San Antonio).

Influenced by Abstract Expressionism as well as other forms, Trenton Doyle Hancock transforms traditionally formal decisions—such as the use of color, language, and pattern—into opportunities to create new characters and convey symbolic meaning. His prints, drawings, and collaged felt paintings work as an ensemble to tell the story of the Mounds—a group of mythical creatures reflecting the artist’s unfolding narrative. Each new work by Hancock contributes to the Mounds’ saga—portraying the birth, life, death, afterlife, and even dream states of these half-animal, half-plant creatures. Space offered within Hancock’s works allows for a psychological dimension that balancing moral dilemmas with wit, language, and color. Included in two Whitney Biennials, Trenton Doyle Hancock’s work has been exhibited in such venues as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Cleveland), and James Cohan Gallery (New York).

Japanese artist Tomoo Gokita has shown at Bill Brady/ATM Gallery (New York), Taka Ishii Gallery (Tokyo), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Rome), and Deitch Projects (New York). Keegan McHargue’s work has shown at Jack Hanley Gallery (San Francisco), Hiromi Yoshii Gallery (Tokyo), Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin (Paris), and Metro Pictures (New York). Painter and graphic artist Gary Panter has exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), the Phoenix Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Jewish Museum (New York).

“Gumption”: featuring Melissa Brown, Tomoo Gokita, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kirk Hayes, Keegan McHargue & Gary Panter
Through May 7, 2011
516 West 20th Street NYC 100011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jack Pierson & Elliott Puckett: To Cut & Construct

[Seven untitled works by Jack Pierson (1998), photographic collages. Two untitled works by Elliott Puckett (2011), ink on paper.]

In association with Cheim & Read and Paul Kasmin galleries, Danziger Projects presents a two-person show of collages by Jack Pierson and Elliott Puckette. Synthesizing the artists' interest in the practice of collage as well as their longstanding friendship, this exhibition presents two quite different expressions of the medium. Pierson's collages are made from cut photographic c-prints while Puckette's are assembled works made on heavy handmade artist's papers. Linking these works are visceral qualities of the finished pieces and their execution’s very skill and originality.

Jack Pierson's work explores emotional undercurrents of everyday life—his photos and collages colorful quests bursting with tropical vegetation, cloud scattered skies, and blurry human figures. Cut and assembled into beguiling abstract shapes and compositions, his works explode with vibrant color. Like much of his work—including his well-known "word" pieces—Pierson's photo-collages harness narrative content and mine his visual archive’s form and color.

Elliott Puckette's work utilizes distinct use of line: What results are abstract paintings and works on paper that reference the body, calligraphic script, and musical scores. In Puckette's painted works, the line is carved out of colored grounds with a razor blade, while her works on paper reverse the process. Starting with a blank piece of handmade paper, Puckette begins with gesture. The resultant composition is developed carefully, painstakingly, and viscerally. Meticulously painted in ink, her lines wax and wane as they journey around the paper.

Puckette's collage works deconstruct the fluidity of her elegant compositions on paper. In her own words, collage becomes "a kind of recycling, of taking old drawings and ripping them up, and reconfiguring them to create a disjointed image." Yet, in doing so she mirrors her usual labor intensive process. Her torn drawings are held together with glue, which starts to pucker underneath the layers of paper. This is "the paper having its own life," she says. This is a reminder of loss of control, and a forcible letting go.

Jack Pierson and Elliott Puckette have each had solo exhibitions at Danziger Projects. This is their first joint show at the gallery. Both artists' work can be found in major museum collections throughout the world.

The exhibit of new paintings and drawings, at the Earl McGrath Gallery Los Angeles, is Elliott Puckette’s first solo show with the gallery. Puckette's paintings have shown in New York, London, Milan, and Los Angeles since 1993, including the Paul Kasmin Gallery, Matthew Marks Gallery, and The Armand Hammer Museum.

“Collage”: Jack Pierson & Elliott Puckette
Through April 30, 2011
534 West 24th Street NYC 10011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Multiverse: In the Plywood Forest of Matt Jones

The question remains as to how and when an image emerges from its template to become emblematic of generations or movements. Further, how are archetypes constituted: particularly when visuals such as Campbell’s soup cans, bulls-eye targets, and André the Giant are recognizable across various strata of society. Matt Jones, in “Multiverse”—his lively solo show up at Freight+Volume through May 7th—raises these and other questions. The Black Flag logo—a simple affair of four vertical black bars rendered by Raymond Pettibon in the late 1970s—especially resonates with Jones. He sees this emblem as having to help spawn a punk and hard-core consciousness.

In Multiverse’s plywood cutouts and large-scale works, Jones incorporates images rendered with paint, photographs, photocopies, scans, laminates, and craft glue upon which further layers are introduced—secondarily drawn with markers. What results is a bold challenge to the viewer’s understanding of memory and recognition in a digital and internet-addled technology.

In utilizing techniques of image remove and repetition, Jones shares much with his peers Wade Guyton, Kelly Walker and Josh Smith. However, Jones goes a step further, his obsessive vision, Buddhist-inspired focus, and three-dimensional product construct resulting in an in-your-face dichotomy swimming between indelible and fleeting, loud and meditatively quiet, and invigorating and mind-numbing.

Beyond immediate visual impressions, Jones draws upon various technological and cross-cultural concepts in his work: Stephen Hawking’s exploration of space, time, parallel universes and the Big Bang Theory; comic book X-Men’s Wolverine; and Henry Rollins and the graphic expression of anarchy. Additionally he invokes a number of mass culture phenomena: The 1984 film Ghostbusters, Star Wars, Mischievous Spirits, Karma Chargers and Energy Reflectors. Strong elements of chance and randomness, magic, control, and organized chaos mix in this “soup.” According to the artist, energy resulted from the desire to get to paint’s possibilities without using it in the final object.

Certain inventions of this milieu have captured his imagination from an early age: “When I was a kid I was obsessed with Ghostbusters. I salute Bill Murray for providing a model of what a man can be. A lot of my spare time was spent making a number of ghost-busting devices, proton packs, PKE meters, and ghost traps. They of course didn’t actually catch ghosts, read paranormal energy, or fire energy from nuclear accelerators. You couldn’t tell me that, not really. I caught ghosts in the woods and cornfields behind my house for hours and hours. It only took my belief in the imaginary technology working for it to be true.”

Presently, Jones has achieved a vibrant realization of these childhood musings in this vibrant installation. Freight+Volume invites the viewer to experience Matt Jones’ “Multiverse” firsthand, meander through his free-standing plywood forest, bathe in the electric energy emanating from his optic stripes and karma chargers, and view his accompanying John Baldessari-inspired video “Every Expression Possible (Wolverine Black Flag).”

The artist lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He’s participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in New York and internationally. [In 2008 Jones formed The Atlantic Conference Press] to publish artist books and collaborations. He received a BFA in painting from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and has studied at the Yale/Norfolk Summer School of Painting.

Matt Jones: “Multiverse”
through May 7, 2011
530 West 24th Street NYC 10001

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Mourning Obsolescence: Morgan Fisher’s Film Boxes

[“Kodak Verichrome 127 May 1952” (2011), archival pigment print. Below: 1950s film box archival pigment print series.]

Morgan Fisher’s new works in this show present boxes of still film from the 1950s. Doubly obsolete—once for being drastically past expiration, next for being a nearly discarded medium—these works represent the decade when Fisher became aware of photography and began to take photographs. Beside the oblique autobiographical focus of these works, there is one mournful as well. What is conveyed is the gradual evaporation of film’s use and its place in our consciousness. Obsolescence—as shown by the photographs—can be disturbing indeed. Relics of a market no longer existing, these boxes no longer fulfill their intended purpose: Instead, they are chance survivors of a system of production, distribution, promotion, and consumption. In these works is captured the pathos of unrealized intentions, expectations, and aspirations. While the boxes survive as made, they express waste in their disuse.

These works on archival paper are rubbings made from covers of “Photograms of the Year,” a British photography annual. Such annuals are the last gasp of photography’s salon tradition in which a photographer is represented by only one photograph. Photographs appearing in annuals are unoriginal and “pleasing pictures of pleasing subjects” taken with utmost “competence.” One finds such expected and nearly Kitschy images of moody Venetian scenes, yachts sailing, picturesque streets in poor villages, soulful children, wrinkled faces of the “mysterious” East, and nudes in embellished pose. Absent from the pages of these annuals are works of classical photographic modernism. One finds—instead—the last gasps of pictorialism. Reflected is an unhappy period when photography was unable to advance to and absorb the radical shift that consigned such photography to irrelevance vis-à-vis the gallery. A kind and touching medium expressing devotion, rubbings usually capture text and design found on gravestones.

Morgan Fisher lives and works in Santa Monica, California. A survey of his work—including film, paintings, installations, and works on paper—is currently on view in London’s Raven Row. He has had solo exhibitions at MoCA (Los Angeles), Tate Modern (London), Kunstverein (Hamburg), and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York). Morgan has taught at Brown University, California Institute of the Arts, and the University of California Los Angeles.

Morgan Fisher
New Work: Photographs & Works on Paper
Bortolami (Gallery II)
Phone Gallery for End Date: 212.727.2050
520 West 20th Street, NYC 10011