Josh Azzarella creates videos and photographs that explore the power of context in the authorship of memory, oftentimes utilizing seminal moments in pop culture and news media to create accessible confrontations with historiography. By illuminating the individual encounter with communal experiences, Azzarella evaluates the perception of realness – which can ultimately be rooted in both the fantastic as much as the pragmatic.
Music is the genesis of Bavington’s paintings. Through sprayed paint, he translates guitar solos, melodies and bass lines into vertical bands of color that bleed into one another. Tracks from bands such as The Darkness, Oasis and The Stone Roses are transformed into visually hypnotizing color compositions. Although Bavington has a method that designates sound to color and composition, the paintings are not literal translations; they remain open to intuition and decision-making, allowing for a distinct artistic presence.
Mark Bennett’s whimsical works engage with pop culture and celebrity to an extreme degree. His blueprint lithographs of Baby Boom era sitcoms and popular television series depict the ultimate pairing of flight of fancy and stoical logic; the purely imaginary floor plans grounded by the dry format of an architect’s design. His works are both pleasingly nostalgic and vaguely disconcerting in their premonition of a society obsessed by television and celebrity culture.
Kim Dorland’s paintings depict the real space of his hometown suburbia; free of romantic delusions, but perfectly accepting of quiet, unexpected beauty. His refusal to remain faithful to one medium or approach plays into the symbiotic nature of his work, the deadness of acrylic, the sheen of spray paint, the density of oil paint all convene to engage the viewer. The loose yet identifiable scenes are interjected with areas of heavy abstract impasto, adding to the raw, fleeting quality of his canvases.Dorland is by no means trying to entice his audience with a nostalgic vision of utopia, but rather he cultivates reflection, upon a quiet moment, a party ended, the fleeting beauty within the often ugly and mundane.
Fish hails from a graphic design background; his projects with Nike and rap artist Aesop Rock have lead to heightened visibility, while partnerships with Upper Playground and 5024sf (San Francisco, CA) have allotted for his recognition in the contemporary art sphere. Bridging the gap between popular conceptions of “high” vs. “low” art, much like peers Mark Ryden, Ryan McGuinness and Barry McGee, Fish’s Orwellian-influenced acrylic paintings and carved wood statues have garnered exposure internationally – from Mexico City to Zurich. His fascination with an industrial existence and its relationship to the human condition creates accessible and collectively biographical environments, many of which toe the line between affectionately sentimental and abstractly harrowing.
Addressing the everyday, Fisher’s multi-media paintings engage with a narrative conceptualism which, when placed over a deliberately misleading grid system, imply that the intent is an informational attempt to solidify meaning. Fisher positively dismisses this possibility via the fluid and interconnected juxtapositions of images and text, which undermine static and singular readings through a mixture of factualities, personal reflection and prognostication, memories and ruminations.
Akin to Magical Realism, Heffernan’s lush self-portraiture utilizes a myriad of art historical references to present a sensual interior narrative, a self-allegory whose half- hidden political agenda is the literal background of the paintings. The dark, Grimm fairy tale-like undercurrent transforms her aristocratic, operatic portraits into a contemporary vanitas or memento mori, acting as both a stylized fantasy and a Bosch-like warning.
Hilliard uses his unique, multi-paneled technique to produce expansive photographs, both figuratively and literally.His sweeping images depict subtle moments of love, family, adolescence, friendship and homoeroticism, with a quiet yet powerful resonance.The multiple panels act as short films; a single work captures the passage of time before our very eyes.Although Hilliard’s photography illustrates his own personal tensions, fears and desires – embroiled in his upbringing and sexuality – they remain universally evocative.
Johnson’s drawings and sculptures tell tales; layered narratives speak of his travels and adventures through everyday life. His works become a springboard for metaphorical investigations of the world he inhabits. Although both factual fictions and absurd scenarios, they are ultimately testaments to observation that force us to question the concrete and truthful. What at first might appear safe and secure will be, upon further inspection, very precarious.
Kozyrev regards the current political and military polemic as relative to past Totalitarian and Imperialistic regimes. He therefore associates contemporary events with the climate of suspicion and censorship (and thus instability) that prevailed in his homeland during the last century, especially in relation to art. The series entitled Lost Edge focuses on notions of the avant-garde and both the military and artistic implications of the phrase. A Modernist and Constructivist re-arranging of pictorial space references artistic movements at the turn of the last century and acts as a reflection on the censoring of the Avant-garde artists within the increasing totalitarianism of the early Soviet Union. This body of work illustrates Kozyrev’s contemplation of this history in an attempt to critique, through association, the current state of affairs in both the military and artistic spheres.
Okay Mountain is a ten member artist collective based in Austin, Texas. Formed in 2006 as an artist-run alternative gallery space, the group has exhibited their drawing, video, sound, and performance projects throughout the United States and in Mexico City, and has been widely recognized for its “inventive construction, loving attention to detail and keen-eyed connoisseurship.”
Ozymandias Weeps refers to the Shelley poem, Ozymandias, in which a traveler stumbles across the wreck of a statue in a vast wasteland of desert. The statue has an inscription that reads “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”. Person’s inflatable, imposing sculpture – alongside his dollar bill collages and other highly conceptual works – reflects upon the confluence of money and power throughout history, and in particular considers current US attitudes that have filtered down from Westward Expansion and notions of Manifest Destiny.The result is a political and cultural critique that encompasses not only the shifting cultural changes that have taken place within Person’s lifetime but also those throughout US history.
David Rathman’s sparsely rendered watercolors appraise the introspective convictions associated with identity, as well as the popular icons and coping mechanisms towards which we inherently gravitate. Grappling with notions of modern masculinity – as presented in the forms of football players, cowboys and rock stars – Rathman assesses how popular notions of strength are manifested in American society.
Rugg’s work consists of literally deconstructing and rearranging newspapers, stamps, comic books and other materials. Through reassembling and reconstituting them in different forms she corrupts the function or status of the object and highlights the inherent power structures and politics of authority supporting the dissemination of information and knowledge.
Ryan gleans inspiration from the slick colors and lines of cars, electronic gadgets and household appliances to transform mundane, undesirable MDF into luxurious, enticing wall-sculptures. By creating multiple (literal) layers, Ryan explores the way line, shape and shadow interact to produce perceptual conundrums that intrigue his viewer.Thus his multi-layered (conceptual, ,that is) pieces speak not only of glossy consumer products but also refer to phenomenology and complex art theories.His work explores the dynamic between craft and production, art and design, man and machine.
Engaging in an astute dialogue with minimalist and constructivist ideologies, Ryman’s work oftentimes operates both architecturally and organically. By employing elements of site-specificity, shadow, raw materiality and dimension, he masterfully creates “specific objects” that utilize environment as an extension of surface. Paint, wood, Velcro swatches, staples, metal and debris playfully conjoin as self-referential qualities that allude to process and materiality, while a deliberate use of tonal planes and gradation bespeak a progressive variation of color-field aesthetics.
Using software processes of his own design, Salavon generates and reconfigures masses of communal material to present new perspectives on the familiar. Though formally varied, his projects frequently manipulate the roles of individual elements derived from diverse visual populations. This often unearths unexpected patterns in the relationship between the part and the whole, the individual and the group. Reflecting a natural attraction to popular culture and the day-to-day, his work regularly incorporates the use of common references and source material. Often, the final compositions are exhibited as art objects – such as photographic prints and video installations – while others exist in a real-time software context.
Sourcing inspiration from 15th Century German map making and Indian miniature paintings, Andrew Schoultz’s frenetic imagery depicts an ephemeral history bound to repeat itself. In his mixed-media works, notions of war, spirituality and sociopolitical imperialism are reoccurring themes, which shrewdly parallel an equally repetitive contemporary pursuit of accumulation and power. Intricate line work, painting, metal leaf and collage twist and undulate under Schoultz’s meticulous hand, ranging from intimately sized wall works to staggering murals and installations. While his illustrated world seems one of chaos and frenzy, Schoultz also implies a sense of alluring fantasy and whimsy – a crossroads vaguely familiar to the modern world.
Schulnik choreographs her subjects in compositions that embody a spirit of the macabre, a Shakespearian comedy/tragedy of love, death and farce. The subjects often stare back at the audience and study them as they are in turn studied, aware of their ancestors from the Grand Theme works of the past, the genre paintings that inform them.Although a haunting sense of foreboding, discomfort and unease is palpable, a sense of understanding, compassion and hopefulness for her cast of characters is still evident in the heavy impasto paintings.
Ali Smith uses the canvas as an open space of exploration; an empty landscape that serves as the starting point for investigation into abstract terrains. Her work illustrates the existential plight the artist has in finding new, personal meaning and direction within the field of abstract painting. The recurring visual trope of Rococo-like excess and abundance performs a celebratory re-assertion of the endless possibilities available to the painter. Smith weaves together fleeting thoughts, moments of time, the fine lines between fact and fiction and subjective desires within her canvases, which in turn present the hopeful attitude of the artist, in the face of the realities of life and experience.
Utilizing John Rajchman’s notion of “operative formalism,” Feodor Voronov creates optical terrains that splinter and twist around the central image of a word. Voronov investigates the nature of repetition in both form and language by painting harlequin patterns that are at once organic and methodical – an analysis of the human experience that borders on familiar but is clearly unique. Voronov toys with the formal aesthetics of the written word, evaluating its psychological roots in symbology á la Magritte, while also embellishing upon the intrinsic habit of mark-making in the vein of Cy Twombly.
Stephanie Washburn works in various media, but is constantly informed by the processes of drawing and painting. In her photography, Washburn applies butter, potatoes, tea bags, shaving cream, pillow stuffing, garden clippings and other domestic materials to her television screen. The images that result generate a range of painterly abstractions and counter narratives to the programmed content flickering beneath. With references to Abstract Expressionism, feminist art practice and early performance, they pose a real physicality as the dramatic player in both the fictive space of the television and her own hybrid image making. In a world clearly mediated and ever more intensely marketed, Washburn explores how the tangible malleability of form can suggest a more generous body politics.
By photographing paint and luxurious ephemera at close range, then using the resulting image as his subject, Weiner creates works that pose a confusion of object, subject and medium. Weiner’s paintings harness the idolatrous fetishistic desire of consumer culture, the fashion industry, and the art world. Thus, his paintings self-critically describe the duality of their own identity as both transcendent creation and commercial item. Likewise, all of the themes and references in the paintings reinforce their status as consumer/art objects. Roland Bathes’ application of Freud’s concept of “the uncanny” to landscape photography is the pertinent reference.
Wolberger uses childhood toys and everyday domestic items to create his large scale sculptures, foregrounding the latent symbolism and cultural paradigms of these objects that so subtly inform Western culture. By enlarging this ephemera to life size, Wolberger emphasizes the distortions of their original manufacture disallowing any real illusion and conceptually forcing the viewer to reconsider their meanings.When enlarged beyond any possibility of dismissal, we see that toy soldiers create lines between Us and Them, plastic cowboys and Indians marginalize and stereotype the Other, even wedding cake bride and groom figurines dictate our expected gender roles.
The hyperrealism of Wright’s large-scale portraits and still-life paintings can often (perhaps ironically) bleed into abstraction. From a distance, her monumental paintings appear to be photo-realistic, displaying snapshot characteristics like cropped composition and intense single source lighting. However, on closer inspection, the range of mark making and painterly applications becomes astoundingly apparent. The paintings become a perceptual conundrum as an easily recognizable object dissolves into abstract shapes and brush-strokes. They are conceptually rooted within an artistic tradition that forces the viewer to question the nature of how we read and understand the world, and they yet remain entirely contemporary in their painterly treatment. Her subjects are taken from her immediate world and are transformed into iconic and timely images.
Yokono uses traditional woodblock methodologies to address the comic book horrors of contemporary Japanese culture. Manga, anime, horror movies, and other stereotypical aspects of Japanese pop culture merge to present iconic images of buoyant menace and cruelty, which serve to contrast startlingly with the sugary cartoon characters that are also common. Although functioning woodblocks, the works are only ever exhibited directly and prints are never produced. Such a method maintains the primacy of the hand made object and the artist retains a tangible presence. These multiple oppositions in Yokono’s work results in pieces that are highly relevant critiques that retain a pleasing irony.