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BLASTS

 

Louis Cameron   E. V. Day   Christoph Draeger   Gardar Eide Einarsson   Matias Faldbakken   Heide Fasnacht   Rosemarie Fiore   Joy Garnett   Maggie Michael

 

Curated by Paul Brewer

 

September 10 – October 22, 2005

 

G FINE ART

1515 14th Street, Suite 200, Washington, DC 2005

 

(Washington, DC) Beginning September 10 and continuing through October 22, 2005, G Fine Art presents BLASTS, a group exhibition curated by Paul Brewer.  BLASTS gathers artists working in a variety of media who strategically use depictions of explosions in their work.  By focusing on particular uses of this imagery, the exhibition addresses many of the ironies and ambiguities surrounding the increasing relevance of the explosion as both a traumatically real occurrence generating incredible collective emotion and a mediated event constantly reproduced within the machinations of state propaganda and the entertainment industry.  Often functioning at the crux of fundamental binaries such as tragedy/spectacle, horror/beauty, and destruction/creation, the works included in BLASTS tend toward criticality while at the same time indulging in an investigation of the aesthetics of pyrotechnic theatricality.  The context of Washington, DC, as the global seat of political/military power provides another dimension to the presentation of BLASTS.  In a city where the dialogues surrounding the explosion as an event are progressively abstracted in the bureaucratic hierarchies of government and media, artists provide contrasting agitprop visions countering the agendas of official image-making.

 

The artists included in BLASTS work across a continuum that extends from the literal to the satirical to the transcendental in their engagement with blow–ups, demolitions, bombings, and disasters.  Artists such as Joy Garnett and Heide Fasnacht use photographic images as source material for paintings and drawings.  Collecting digital images from various news and government sites on the internet, Garnett unhinges them from their contextual framework by introducing them into the traditional artistic genre of oil painting.  Her works illustrate the malleability of media imagery by rendering fleeting scenes of conflict as permanent visceral effigies produced with a painterly meditation that erodes the familiarity and acceptance of remote events delivered ever more rapidly and repetitiously via evolving communications technology.  Fasnacht’s drawings meticulously recuperate moments of sublime destruction by transcribing documentary photographs of cataclysmic events into legible narratives that unfold hieroglyphically as precise, labor–intensive hatchmarks and raster dots on paper.  Her hand highlights the inscrutable nature of the spectacle being depicted by slowly mapping spontaneous tragedies using the luxurious time that craft affords.

 

Other types of image appropriations are used by several artists in BLASTS.  Gardar Eide Einarsson, for example, selected a graphic of the Brooklyn Bridge exploding from Marvel’s X–Men comic book series to produce Untitled (Other Scene).  Einarsson was interested in the X–Men’s mutant power to forsee imminent disasters and therefore enact measures designed to protect society (one which ironically feared and ostracized them) from mysterious dark forces.  Scanned and blown–up using progressively larger sheets of standard paper in a copier machine, the pieced together scene closely corresponds to the viewpoint the artist had of the Brooklyn Bridge from his studio at the time he made the work.  Louis Cameron pulled the image he manipulates in his digital video from the cover of DJ Spooky’s 1998 album Riddim Warfare, which borrows the graphic qualities of Atari’s Space Invaders to pictorially posit the destruction of New York at the hands of alien craft.  Entitled Warfare Riddim, Cameron’s visual sampling of one of hip–hop’s master audio mixer’s animates a pixellated image of the hypothetical attack into an endless rhythmic loop of detonating bursts.

 

The enduring American icon of Marilyn Monroe provided the source material with which E.V. Day could literalize the notion of the blonde bombshell.  Printed in sequence from her sketchbooks, Day’s rumination on Monroe’s billowing dress morphs into another symbol of mid–century decadence: the mushroom cloud signaling the birth of an atomic age with its gross stockpiling of the instruments of mutually assured destruction. Hollywood productions are also the subject of Matias Faldbakken’s video with the explanatory title Movie Scenes Where the Problem Gets Bigger If or When They Fight It.  Editing together recent clips from various action, horror, and science fiction films, Faldbakken illustrates an oft–repeated moral lesson that is thread through the plots of many lavishly–budgeted blockbusters.  In each scene, human attempts to remedy what appears to be a doomed situation only serve to strengthen the power of aggressive forces bent on paths of violent destruction. The entertainment industry’s indulgent use of apocalyptic imagery as well as its increasingly symbiotic relationship to the news media is the subject of Christoph Draeger’s The Last News.  Starring Guy Richards Smith as a sensation–hustling anchorman, the video (directed by Draeger with Reynold Reynolds and Gary Breslin) adopts the graphics and production quality of an MSNBC broadcast to satirically report on the progressive destruction of global capitals.  As correspondents are eliminated, Smith is gradually isolated and his theatrical grandstanding turns to melodramatic fear.

 

BLASTS also includes more formal investigations of given media to produce the explosion as an aggregate of various painterly actions and gestures.  Maggie Michael’s mural size drawing unfolds in a narrative that uses the paper as a site onto which her staging of an explosion is mapped with everything from splattering spills to calligraphic graffiti marks to precise renderings suggesting landscape and anatomy.  The blustering physicality of broad strokes combined with the introduction of intimately controlled details suggests an intense emotion tempered by scrupulous analysis.  Rosemarie Fiore uses actual explosions to produce her drawings, which are imprinted with the residue of fireworks detonated within cardboard tubes.  The collaged discs (with circumferences adhering to the various sizes of tube the artist employed), each emblazoned with the colors available in factory arsenals and embedded with crystalline deposits, overwhelm the picture plane in a poignant reflection of the shock and awe military spectacles that inspired their creation.


 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

LOUIS CAMERON completed his BFA at the University of Southern California and his MFA at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia.  He also attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and was an Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem from 2002-2003.  His recent solo exhibitions include I-20 Gallery in New York and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects.  Cameron’s work has been included in exhibitions such as The 1st Moscow Biennale, Extreme Abstraction at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, Buy American at the Galerie Chez Valentin in Paris, and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

 

E. V. DAY received her BFA from Hampshire College and her MFA from Yale University.  Her solo exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris and Henry Urbach Architecture in New York.  She has participated in group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Barbican Centre in London, the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, OH, as well as the 2000 Whitney Biennial and PS1’s Greater New York (2000), among others.

 

CHRISTOPH DRAEGER studied at the School of Visual Arts, Luzern and the Ecole National Superieur des Arts Visuels de la Cambre in Brussels.  He also participated in the International Studio Program at PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. He has recently exhibited his work at the Kunstwerke in Berlin, Kunsthaus Graz, and the New Britain Museum of Contemporary Art. He has had solo exhibitions in, amongst other venues, Roebling Hall in New York, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Kunstmuseum Solothurn, Musee d’Art Contemporaine de Toulouse, and the Kunsthalle Fri-Art in Freiburg. He recently designed the sets for the performance of Damnation Road (with Miguel Gutierrez and the Powerful People) at The Kitchen, New York.

 

GARDAR EIDE EINARSSON studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Bergen and the Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main.  He also completed the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program.  His recent solo exhibitions include Team Gallery in New York, Galerie Loevenbruck in Paris, Nils Staerk Contemporary Art in Copenhagen, the Fotogalleriet in Oslo, and the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, among others.  Two person and group exhibitions include the Bergen Kunsthall, Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, Greater New York 2005 at PS1/MoMA, and Populism at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, among others.  He will also be included in the forthcoming Istanbul Biennale.

 

MATIAS FALDBAKKEN studied at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Bergen and the Staatliche Hochschule fur Bildende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main.  His work is currently on exhibit in the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2005.  His solo exhibitions include STANDARD (OSLO) in Oslo, the Bergen Kunsthall, and the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, among others.  He has participated in groups exhibitions such as the Biennale of Sydney, Popsulism at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and Kunst–Werke in Berlin, among others.

 

HEIDE FASNACHT has been exhibiting widely since the late 1980s.  Her recent solo exhibitions include Strange Attractors Virginia Commonwealth University’s Anderson Galleries, Blowup at the Worcester Art Museum, and Involuntary Actions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, as well as Kent Gallery in New York, Bernard Toale Gallery in Boston, and RAM Galerie in Rotterdam, among others.  Her group exhibitions include the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, WI; the North Carolina Museum of Art; the New Museum, apex art, Sculpture Center, and Matthew Marks Gallery in New York; the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University; and The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, among others.

 

ROSEMARIE FIORE received her BA from the University of Virginia and her MFA from The School of the Arts Institute of Chicago. Fiore has participated in multiple artist residency programs including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.  Her recent solo and group exhibitions include venues such as Grand Arts, Kansas City; The Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY; The Queens Museum of Art, NY; Plus Ultra Gallery, Brooklyn; ADA Gallery, Richmond, VA; The Dieu Donne Papermill, NY; Midway Contemporary Art, St. Paul, MN; Bodybuilder and Sportsman Gallery, Chicago; Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; and The Bayly Art Museum, Charlottesville, VA.

 

JOY GARNETT studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux Arts in Paris and received her MFA from the City College of New York. She has exhibited her paintings at Debs & Co., Lombard Fried Fine Arts, Foxy Productions, Clementine Gallery, White Columns, and Exit Art in New York; Schroeder Romero in Brooklyn; National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC; and Aeroplastics Contemporary, de Witte Zaal, and de Bond in Belgium.  Her awards include project grants from the Wellcome Trust, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and the Anonymous Was a Woman foundation.

 

MAGGIE MICHAEL received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin, an MA from San Francisco State University, and her MFA from American University.  Her recent solo exhibitions in G Fine Art in Washington, DC and Lump Gallery/Projects in Raleigh, NC.  Recent group exhibitions include Census 03: New Art from DC at the Corcoran Museum of Art, Kimberly Venardos & Company in New York, Gallery Four in Baltimore, Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, VA, McLean Project for the Arts in McLean, VA, and the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, DC, among others.  Michael was the recipient of a 2004 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Grant.

 

ABOUT THE CURATOR

PAUL BREWER completed his BA in Art History at the University of Maryland at College Park and his MA in Curatorial Studies at Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture.  From 1999 to 2003, he served as Director of College Exhibitions at the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC where he organized the first museum solo exhibitions of artists such as Tara Donovan, Siemon Allen, Anthony Goicolea, and Catherine Chalmers, as well as various thematic and survey group exhibitions of contemporary art.  His essays have accompanied exhibitions at the Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, DC.  His writings have been published in Origina, a conceptual art magazine based in Mexico City and the Manifesta Journal based in Amsterdam.  He is currently an independent curator and writer based in Brooklyn, NY.

 

ABOUT G FINE ART

Founded in September 2001 to exhibit and promote international art from the 1960s to the present day, G Fine Art places a special emphasis on young artists-those dedicated to exploring cutting-edge cultural and artistic issues by pushing the boundaries of traditional media. Yet the gallery's mission is not tied to any youth cult. Rather, G Fine Art seeks to create opportunities for younger artists to expand and explore new dimensions in their work, while enabling already established artists and those who came to prominence in previous decades to be celebrated for the depth and contemporary relevance of their art.

 

G Fine Art stands at the center of Washington, D.C.'s thriving art scene, which in recent years has come to complement the offerings of the city's world-class museums and private collections. Physically, the gallery is located in a landmark building in Washington's theater, club and gallery district; its open space plan and technical resources offer the flexibility to accommodate any proposal that its artists might submit.

 

Professionally, however, G Fine Art is most accurately located within the international artworld of contemporary galleries and museums united by similar missions, conceptual approaches and cultural experiences. Through its activities and its artists, G Fine Art actively participates in and extends the thought-provoking conversation about contemporary art and its influences that occurs at notable art fairs, in distinguished journals and at other public forums.