"SO REAL" Group Show @ Radiator Arts in Long Island City
Friday March 8th - Sunday April 20th
Opening Friday, March 8th 6 - 9PM
Artists: Pedro Barbeito, Eve K. Tremblay, Jack Henry, Karlis Rekevics, Kati Vilim, John Gerrard, Christopher Saunders
Curated by Alan Lupiani
“So Real” at Radiator Arts, March 8 - April 20th, offers a contemporary survey which considers associations between the twentieth century art movements of Western Social Realism and Socialist Realism of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
The words "subjective" and "official” are paramount in describing the differences between both movements. Western Social Realism has been described as a “subjective” tradition allowing for the expression and development of unfavorable narratives. In contrast, Socialist Realism has been characterized as state sanctioned, official, and oppressive.
Recent global instability concurrent to the transfer of power from old regimes to new has cast a fresh light upon this "subjective" vs. "official" narrative. As heads of state draft legislation to address a multitude of geo-political and economic challenges, inherent conflicts arise between preserving individual liberties and protecting the state against general chaos, terror, and/or complete collapse. Consequently, the individuals' right to speak out and act critically against the government have become increasingly challenged and diminished. Re-defining "subjective" individuals' rights has become increasingly constricted by overriding "official" mandates to protect the "state."
“So Real” further explores these incongruities by suggesting that past political and economic constructs organically mutate into new overlapping hyper realities. For example, the Obama Administration has appropriated the socially progressive doctrines of two previous Social Realism(ist) era Presidents, Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy.
Roosevelt's "New Deal," Kennedy's "New Frontier" and now Obama's "Forward" all possess similar premises based on socialist principles. Likewise, all three Presidents have been accused of practicing, "undisguised state socialism." Ironically, these conflicting assertions that socialist based initiatives are necessary to sustain capitalistic free markets from doom and gloom, speaks volumes to the complexities that co-exist within diametrically opposed axioms similar to that of both Social Realism(ist) traditions.
Speaking of doom, "So Real" also vogues as “provocateur” in the form of shared compressed psychologically charged narratives. Taken one step further, the exhibition functions on a plane of personal protest, challenging the sustainability of past and present day utopian constructs.
On a more positive and final note, “So Real” alludes to new beginnings in the aftermath of failure, death, and destruction by the inclusion of brutalist inspired sculpture and architectural forms. This “clean slate” segue provides an entry point to explore alternative models which may provide pathways for future growth and progress.
Jack Henry (b. 1984, Jackson, MS) is a 2010 MFA graduate in Sculpture from from the University of Maryland. He has shown extensively in group shows in New York City most recently being included in “Creative Non-Fiction,” Kunsthalle Galapagos, Brooklyn, NY, “Daphne,” Fjord, Philadelphia, PA and “Work Sites,” Stamp Gallery, College Park, MD. Henry appropriates discarded objects seen by the roadside to create monuments to post-industrial America. The selection process is focused on man-made objects and structures such as: dilapidated houses, roadside memorials, tattered billboards, and other discarded materials. Each object is reinterpreted and presented as an artifact or a natural history museum model of something pulled from the contemporary landscape.
Karlis Rekevics (b. 1963 in Harrogate, England) traveled as a young child in the Middle East and Europe, and grew up in Seattle, WA. He attended the New York Studio School from 1992-97, majoring in sculpture. Since 1998 he has taken part in fifteen exhibitions, including “Building Structures” at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, 2002,; “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” curated by Jeffrey Uslip at The Project, New York, 2004; and “In Practice,” at the Sculpture Center, Long Island City, 2005. Rekevics won Best in Show drawing from Perception II at Wright State University, 1998, in a competition juried by Rackstraw Downes, and has held residencies at Art OMI, Triangle International Workshop, Triangle Residency, a full fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT; and at Emma Lake Artist Workshop in Saskatchewan, Canada. His work has been reviewed in the New York Times, the New York Sun, and artcritical.com.
Pedro Barbeito (b. 1969, La Coruna, Spain) lives and works in New York City. He received an MFA in painting from the Yale School of Art in 1996. He has had exhibitions at Basilico Fine Arts (NY), Lehmann Maupin (NY), and the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City, to name but a few. He is the recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Biennial award and his work resides in collections around the world. Pedro Barbeito’s works address the formative role of violence in contemporary life, from a political ethos driven by "terror" and deception to the aesthetics of visual assault prevailing in popular culture. Drawing upon the anxieties of an age when we are afforded, primarily through the Internet, unprecedented visual access to the violence of war and political strife (the conflict in Iraq and the Abu Ghraib images of torture, for example), these canvases materialize through painting the ubiquitous command found in most NYC transportation hubs: "If you see something, say something."
Ève K Tremblay (b. 1972, Québec, Canada) studied French literature at the University of Montreal and theatre at The Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theater, in New York. She holds a BFA with a major in photography from Concordia University in Montreal. Her work is mainly inspired by literature and science. Consciousness is examined from a poetic point of view through photographs, videos, installations, performances, texts and collages. Tremblay was on the 2012 Québec long list nomination for the Sobey Art award. A Monograph of her works entitled Tales Without Grounds was published by the CEEAC in Strasbourg & Centre d’exposition Plein Sud in 2006. She has also published two artist books: Memory Mapping Hope Gardens (Location scoutings) (2010) as well as With Books (2012). Group shows are ongoing at the Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina (SK), at Ruth Phaneuf Fine Arts in New York, and at the Kaminsky Foundation in the Mana Contemporary Art Center, NJ.
Kati Vilim (b. 1970, Budapest, Hungary) lives and works in Newark, NJ. She received her MFA from both, University of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary and Montclair State University. Her works have been exhibited at Sheldon Museum of Art, Lincoln, NE, at Art Viceroy in Miami, in New York, San Francisco and Budapest. Her work has been discussed in Brooklyn Rail, Hycide Magazine and in online blogs as He Said She Said. Kati Vilim’s paintings are created by utilizing a stridently internal, formal, and minimal process. She incorporates the early twentieth century philosophies of Futurism and Suprematism to create visual tropes that suggest a purely dystopian world which has been transformed by twentieth century capitalism. In Vilim's painting, one can imagine the imprint of outdated and failed corporate logos such as Enron. Vilim intentionally slows down the transmission of her images by utilizing a transparent and layered painting process, leaving the impression that her intuitive symbols and visual vibrations are evil offspring of a mad social experiment gone terribly wrong.
Christopher Saunders (b. 1972, Virginia, USA) received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and his MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. The artist currently has a studio practice in Brooklyn, NY. His paintings have been exhibited in New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, and internationally in Berlin and Beijing. The artist was a 2010 Fellow in Painting, awarded by the New York Foundation for the Arts. Christopher is also a past recipient of the prestigious Virginia Museum of Fine Art Fellowship. His work has been discussed in Contemporary Magazine, White Hot Magazine, Phaidon.com, NY Arts Magazine and the Kansas City Star. Christopher Saunders’ stark realistic landscape paintings evoke a slowed down eeriness reminiscent of ominous events with few definitive outcomes. Dark clouds move in over vast empty plains, roads lead to nowhere. Black smoke rises off in the distance. His surfaces are worked up into smooth surface through a wet on wet process which suggest a slippage of time and a vacuum of experience. These “hyper surrealist” dreamscapes primarily exist unto themselves with few historical references, devoid of specific time or place. Many of Saunders works appear trapped in nightmarish time capsules, harboring the din and pall of a world in constant flux as the result of human made conflict and/or naturally occurring disasters.
John Gerrard (b. 1974, Dublin, Ireland) John Gerrard’s artworks concern themselves with the nature of contemporary power in the broadest sense, epitomizing the structures of power and the networks of energy that characterized the massive expansion and intensification of human endeavor that took place during the twentieth century. Many works have featured geographically isolated industrial facilities that are a hidden part of the global production network that makes the luxuries of contemporary life possible.
John Gerrard has participated in group shows including BEYOND at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, Estonia (2011), 20/20, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Ireland (2011), EV+A, Limerick, Ireland, in collaboration with Peter Carroll. (2010), Infinitum at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, (2009), Academia at L’Ecole de Beaux-Arts, Paris (2008), Equal, That Is, To the Real Itself, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Existencias at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2007).
Recent solo presentations of Gerrard’s work include Infinite Freedom Exercise, Manchester International Festival, Manchester, UK (2011), John Gerrard, Ivory Press, Madrid, Spain (2011), John Gerrard, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, Perth, Australia (2011), Universal, Void, Derry, N. Ireland (2011), John Gerrard, Thomas Dane Gallery, London, UK (2010), Cuban School, Simon Preston Gallery, New York (2010), Sow Farm : What You See is Where You're At, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Scotland (2010), Oil Stick Work, Art on the Underground, Canary Wharf Station, London, UK (2009 / 10), Directions : John Gerrard, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington DC, USA (2009), and John Gerrard, Animated Scene, 53rd International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia, Italy (2009).
Alan Lupiani is a painter, writer, and independent curator living in Brooklyn, New York since 1996. He also manages the AICAD/New York Studio Residency Program in DUMBO, Brooklyn, New York.