Display Cases in the Great HallTHE LETTER, THE DECREE, AND THE SHIPS
29 March to 15 May 2016
Paintings and Drawings by David Fertig
Painting with a delicate yet fierce imagination, David Fertig explores the real and imagined events of the Napoleonic Wars, placing intimate moments from history into the forefront of our view. His paintings tell the unfolding story of lovers who part, one for battle, one for expectant hope, as a war begins, rages and continues toward the inevitable.
Fertig’s paintings bridge worlds of representation and abstraction, recalling the philosophy of Nicolas de Staël’s “entre deux.” Misty scenes are viewed through a clouded lens, and figures blur as if emerging from memory after reading a loosely held letter. A sheaf of pages from a decree, and petals from an overblown rose fall onto the table. The gesture of a hand is fraught with emotion, delicately captured in grey and pink and a still life is animated by words suggesting a rousing declaration of War. Steamy clouds, waves, and splashes of salt water hit the prow of a ship, giving viewers a synesthetic experience of the ocean, the creaking masts, and dried salt on the decks. Fertig’s work also depicts shadowy ruins and still burning hulls full of smoke and white-hot flames. Pastels and drawings capture fleeting moments on the beach: duels, beached dories, schooners listing at anchor. Continuing a narrative of shipwreck, four figures wade toward us from the water onto the beach. Fertig’s evocative ambiguity allows viewers to wonder whether they are emerging from the sea, four dismounted horsemen, or simply the crew, miraculously surviving the evening’s disaster.
Fertig came of age in the 1960s, and was influenced by New York school abstract expressionists, and by the figurative movement within post-war painting. Debt to the painter Nicolas de Staël can be seen in his Ship of the Line: Minotaur (reproduced here on the verso) which features short brushstrokes like those visible in de Staël’s La Ciotat, or Le Lavandou. Fertig’s representational paintings recall the influence of his mentor, New York painter Robert Kulicke, or painter and printmaker Robert Andrew Parker.
CASE ONE: The Letter, Decree, Ruins of the Abbey and other oil paintings on canvas.
CASE TWO: Ships, Duels, and Battles. Painting, pastels, drawings on various supports.
All Paintings Courtesy of the Artist and Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco
Curated by Lisa A. Banner
Display Cases Exhibition Archive
22 February to 29 March 2016
Paintings by Riccardo Vecchio
In these paintings of the Dolomites, Riccardo Vecchio explores the topography and natural transformation of an infamous World War I battle site. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this ridge of the Alps forming the northeastern Italian border witnessed horrendous conflicts during Word War I. During the War, Di Qui Non Si Passa was an admonition to those approaching: From here you shall not pass. A cast-iron sign at the edge of Italian territory where the terrain becomes fiercest and most daunting, this sign stands today as a monument, marking a brutal and futile mission of dubious military significance, where lives were lost. In the attempt to cut off the advance off the enemy, trenches and tunnels were dug into glaciers and rocks. Men and animals carried provisions and munitions thousands of feet up into this unsparing terrain. A battle became trench warfare at a complete standstill; unable to advance both Italians and Austrians dug deep tunnels into the rock, and set off tons of dynamite. Resulting explosions made entire peaks implode, burying many alive. Others simply died from exposure.
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9 January 2016 – 9 February 2016
HEATHROW ORCHARD WALKS
Kate Corder’s photographs document political action since 2014, circumnavigating Heathrow Airport on foot, to trace villages and ancient sites that limn edges of its perimeter. Like Richard Long’s walks, or Robert Smithson’s essays about airports and geological time, Corder’s walks exist in the doing, and then exist in a separate form as the documentation. Collecting fruits and flowers, observing a vanishing way of life, Corder notices intrusions of the modern jet age upon the medieval and subsequent settlements and agricultural rhythms, and she views her work as performance activism. Read more >
3 November 2015 – 9 January 2016
Kentucky Wonder green beans, hardy pole beans that thrive in full sun, were special for photographer Willard Traub.(died on 25 August 2015). The beans grew outside his back door in Massachusetts. Productive staples yielding from early spring until first frost, sometimes they remained as frozen hulls on the vines, well beyond harvest time. Winding around metal fences and resilient despite weather, disease, and insects, their elegant forms remind of the wonder of nature in close familiar settings, outside a back door, or along a fence. Read more >
21 September to 2 November 2015
Gary Schneider’s extraordinary nude photographs, 2001-2005, evolved from working with a small flashlight in total darkness, sustaining the exposure on film for about an hour, to trace whole body portraits of friends. Perfecting the process over several years, he created unusual studies that explore both psychological and physical presence. Schneider muses that “there are so many variables” in creating frank yet mysterious and unique individual portraits, which are photographic records of the performance of exposure. Read more >
6 July to 13 September 2015
COWBOY COUNTRY: Photographs of Wyoming
Roberto Sandoval’s silver gelatin print photographs were shot over a ten year period, to reflect the ranching life of Wyoming cowboys. Less populous than any other of the fifty states, Wyoming is a land of high plains and extensive cattle ranches, fringed with mountains. With a wide and low horizon and high stone mesas among the features that Sandoval has captured in these black and white photographs, he documents the expansive West in the late twentieth century. Horses and cowboys, when seen, dominate the rolling landscape of open grazing and grassland, sparse treelines and rugged peaks that characterize this wild open range and give it a mythic quality. Read more >
Display Cases Exhibition ArchiveWalter Martin and Paloma Muñoz
1 June to 30 June 2015
Entomological boxes by Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz contain a selection of composed butterflies and moths, assembled from the wings of Lepidoptera gathered from all over the world, and joined to tiny human bodies. In nature, the role of these flying insects is pollination, gathering a dusting of pollen along their legs, and carrying it from one plant to another. Delicate color and dramatic markings attract mates, and allow Lepidoptera to dissemble in the presence of predators. Martin and Muñoz cross-pollinated human with Lepidoptera fusing them into new forms. Read more >
1 May to 31 May 2015
LA 24 ORE: COURT OF MEMORY
The Italian “24 Ore” (literally, “24 hours”) is a leather briefcase designed to hold only a day’s essentials. Kikki Ghezzi has created three 24 Ore containing photogravure images of her childhood home, images taken when the home had stood silent for five years after the death of her father, and shortly before it was to be emptied completely. Three distinct cases represent stages in a journey of remembrance: preservation of memory, grief, and ultimately, personal transformation. The 24 Ore embody the process of memory itself, its limitations and demands for selection and compression: a house must become a small, portable case; years passed within its walls must become only moments of in-ward reflection. Read more >
March 21, 2015 - April 30, 2015
Benjamin Cottam’s drawings have the vaporous quality of plumes of smoke, captured against a fine and delicate azure sky. Using techniques favored by many artists of the 18th century, Cottam excerpts images taken from the headlines or news snippets, and converts them into riveting and intense studies. Delicately rendered in white crayon against a blue page, they are silky threads of memory. Recording moments of journalism, depicting pieces of people, bodies, and the residual effects of mindless, senseless killing, Cottam draws what is reported on the news. Read more >
February 14th, 2015 - March 21st, 2015
DIRTY WORDS: LOVE LETTERS
When William Hempel returned to New York after seven years living abroad, he was struck by the casual and constant use of insults. This series of paintings emerged from his experience of language, and its permutations, as the artist experienced harsh words in common parlance, called out loud on streets among friends and strangers every day in public and private in the City.
Each small painting has the same dimensions. The panel depths vary, implying the hurt of the words, how deeply they penetrate as they are uttered. Contained on the handcrafted wooden panel is a single word, appearing in the top register of a two-color field, lovingly painted with stencil. Read more >
January 7th, 2015 - February 13th, 2015
LUCIFER’S KISS: Photograms by TR ERICSSON
Lucifer was the Latin name given to the brightest star in the ancient Roman sky, the light we now identify with the planet Venus. The first light in the night sky, it is often seen low on the horizon just after sunset. Ericsson plays with the subsequent interpretation of Lucifer as the favored angel who falls from grace, becoming identified with forces of darkness. In these photograms, Lucifer brings light to the paper, revealing a woman’s form, fashioning her contours against glossy black.
Playing with light and dark, edges and shadows, Ericsson manipulates both muse and medium to create a sensuous and luminous image. Read more >
October 6th, 2014 - January 6th, 2015
EPHEMERAL PIGMENTS: Polaroids by Beatrice Pediconi
Beatrice Pediconi's Ephemeral Pigments is a series of polaroids of paintings on water, documenting her spirit moving over the liquid tableau. Using a different medium each time, sometimes paint, sometimes egg, sometimes pigment and oils, she circulates images into a basin of water, dropping viscous liquids into a receptive tray filled with water, coloring the movement and ripples on the surface, with these intense and delicious substances. At times they are suspended like a meniscus on the surface, at times they form shapes, and then dissolve, trailing tails behind.
The movement of the artist's hand over the water, her gesture, is recorded in the three poetic series of polaroids. Read more >
August 8th - October 6th, 2014
NORWAY: Small works on Paper
Michael Kirk's intimate pastels and watercolors were made on trips he took to Norway. Tender reflections of majestic landscapes, made on site as he traveled through Norway's fjords and mountains, many of the small works later inspired larger paintings and drawings when he returned to his studio. They convey his immediate responses to Norwegian landscape. His own words describe his impressions:
1991. Lofoten, an archipelago within the Artic Circle, mountainous islands reach out into the Norwegian Sea. In late May the “midnight sun” floats along the horizon. Dusk becomes dawn; one day runs into the next. I was working with pastels using my fingers to grind pigment into pigment. This physical act extends my being directly into the paper. The work is not driven by conscious thought, rather by a series of sensations and the rhythm of my hands responding to the moment. Read more >
June 20th to August 8th, 2014
DREAMSEQUENCE FILM STILLS
As a photographer and a filmmaker, Dean Dempsey plays with questions of identity by masking his figures, removing them from our gaze with layers and adornment, or by placing them into carefully arranged tableaus that reveal a multiplicity of meanings.
In his film Dreamsequence, women are posed in diferent rooms that suggest a dramatic stage set. One kneels on the floor in an empty room filling with balloons that drop randomly from the ceiling, and later sits in a chair, lifting her face to a shower of golden glitter raining down upon her skin. The other perches on a chair in a bay window, naked except for the paint on her face, and the tulle enveloping her lower limbs. She moves without speaking, holding a bird in a cage. In the close ups of their faces shown here, they appear as though they are remembered from a dream. Read more >
May 4, 2014 - June 16, 2014
HUNTED: Gouache Drawings by Eliana Pérez
Domestic intranquilities form the subjects of this series of gouache drawings by Colombian artist Eliana Pérez, executed as a continuous numbered series with point of brush on deckled edge paper. Animals inhabit an interior and domestic landscape, coming to life and interacting with their environment. A group of branches in a vase waves cautiously as if bent by wind toward an unseen place, breaking into pieces and wispy fragments for no apparent reason. A slipcover begins to growl as if ready for attack. A hidden dragon slithers to life in the folds of a drapery, leaving fire in its wake. An archer shoots at a trophy stag from the comfort of his decorative pose on an ovoid telephone table. A flock of birds twitter against the back of a sofa. A living room is submerged in standing water, colorless, and linear. A blue mattress, its coils exposed, floats away on an ocean of coiled lines. The images form a personal narrative of disquiet. Read more >
March 24, 2014 - May 3, 2014
WOLF: Constructions in Wood and Mirror by Jongil Ma
Jongil Ma is intrigued by the delicate social relationships between friends and inside social groups. As an immigrant to the United States from Korea in 1996, his continued fascination with these interactions has led him to create an art practice that embraces sculpture and installation to create interactive spaces. Working in both large-scale monumental sculpture and intimate conceptual pieces, he brings sensitivity and power to his work. Because he wants to break through the confining divisions between audience and artist, he asks a wide range of participants to bring their own concerns to transform his pieces. Read more >
February 1, 2014 - March 17, 2014
Horses are powerful, atavistic creatures, symbols of freedom, speed, and sensitive response. This exhibition of horse drawings spans two important dates connected to the imagery of Irish painter Timothy Hawkesworth: 1 February 2014 marks the beginning of the Year of the Horse, the seventh sign of the Chinese zodiac and an auspicious year recognizing the power and primal nature of the horse. The end date of the exhibition, 17 March marks Saint Patrick’s Day, named for the patron saint of Ireland, where Timothy Hawkesworth grew up on a farm and began his relationship with horses.
Hawkesworth’s horses are energetic and rapidly drawn with graphite over wax and paint on paper, moving from right to left, galloping, rearing, and walking with heads bowed, raised or thrown back in restless movement. Evoking the animal nature with figurative representations, like Susan Rothenberg’s horses from the 1970s, Hawkesworth infuses a personal vision in these drawings, and taps into a source of infinite fascination: domesticated animals that retain a wild and untamed spirit. Read more >
November, 2013- January 17th, 2014
Alabaster and Albacore
Christopher Smith's Alabaster and Albacore is a series of lush and velvety photographic prints, showing proposed video installations in the interiors of recognizable landmarks and public spaces, including the James B. Duke House. In this body of work Smith engages themes of transience and permanence, movement and color, nature and displacement.
Taking elements of color and bubbles from his ongoing "Painter Project," Smith transforms them, draping them over the railings of staircases, suspending them from the skylights and floating them across the floor toward the viewer. Using techniques attuned classic films like as director Carol Reed’s “Odd Man Out (1947, Two Cities film), Jean-Luc Godard’s “Two or Three Things I Know About Her,” (1967, Argos Films), or Martin Scorsese’s 1976 classic, “Taxi Driver,” Smith hones in on the bubbles floating in front of the camera as visual metaphors for the transience of life, the fragility of the moment. Read more >
September 15th - October 31st
Flowers of the Sky
Flowers of the Sky is a series of life-size botanical paintings on the folios of an 18th century astronomy text, dismantled and then reassembled into an accordion-fold artist book. The transformation of the text of James Ferguson's Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles (1799) began in response to a Victorian astronomy book entitled Flowers of the Sky in the archive of the John Work Garrett Library at Johns Hopkins University.
As the artist describes, the fluid yet tenuous painting on the book pages is analogous to a fragile web or distant constellation. For Smith, flowers are symbols of our selves and of nature, as well as a metaphor for the machinations of the universe. Implicitly, book folios serve as multivalent supports for the painted leaves and flowers that adorn them with color and design imposed over printed words. Read more >
Display Cases Artists in the News
Jongil Ma's work to be featured at Space 776 in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY. Opening April 8th, 2016. More info.
AbEx Redux includes paintings by Kikki Ghezzi. The show is on view at The Local in Long Island City, Queens, NY, April 3rd - 27th, 2016.
Benjamin Cottam's display cases exhibition at the Institute reviewed in the Brooklyn Rail.
TR Ericsson is featured in the Huffington Post. "The 21 Art Exhibitions You'll Be Talking Bout This Year" looks forward to Ericsson's upcoming show at the Cleveland Art Museum.
Beatrice Pediconi exhibition on view at the Maison Particulière in Brussels.