The School | Jack Shainman Gallery
ANDRES SERRANO: Selected Works 1984-2015
HOME ROOM : A Multimedia Group Exhibition
Opening January 7, 2017
THE SCHOOL | Jack Shainman Gallery is pleased to announce ANDRES SERRANO: Selected Works 1984-2015 and Home Room, a multimedia group exhibition featuring works by Huma Bhabha, Nick Cave, Turiya Magadlela, Enrique Martínez Celaya, Claudette Schreuders, Laurie Simmons, Michael Snow, Becky Suss and Carlos Vega.
For over three decades, Andres Serrano has pushed the boundaries of what has been accepted in the medium of photography. His works have both shocked and seduced with confrontational imagery targeting race relations, community values, religious sects, corporeality, sexuality and political order. Compositions resembling pre-17th century religious paintings challenge the viewer with a perspective of a cultural history of our own design, in all its radiant beauty and stark repulsiveness. Serrano entwines the mortal with the spiritual, the holy with the diabolical and the pure with the sullied, allowing the messiness of carnal existence to spill over onto sacred subject matter. By combining paradigmatic symbols that have historically been ritually separated, his photographs violate taboos, while imparting a profound, visceral dissonance that resonates on a subterranean frequency.
Andres Serrano's name, along with Robert Mapplethorpe's, was at the crossroads of the 1989 Culture Wars when Serrano's photograph, Piss Christ (1987), became the subject of a national debate on freedom of artistic expression and the public funding of controversial art. Piss Christ, an ethereal image of a crucifix submerged in the artist's urine, remains his most controversial and misunderstood work.
Included in this exhibition are selected photographs from various series including America (2001-2004), a panorama of American society, The Morgue (1992), an investigation of death, History of Sex (1995-1996), graphic images which have been taped to repair previous vandalism, and Torture (2015), his most recent work. Serrano has also photographed numerous other subjects including the Ku Klux Klan, the homeless, and bodily fluids.
Andres Serrano was born in 1950 in New York City. He attended the Brooklyn Museum Art School from 1967 to 1969, where he studied painting and sculpture. Serrano is an internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been shown in major institutions in the United States and abroad. His photographs are in numerous museums and public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Institute of Contemporary Art, Amsterdam, Holland; capc musée d'art contemporain, Bordeaux, France; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid Spain; Centro Cultural Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City, Mexico; New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, Sevilla, Spain; and the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain.
In American schools, the homeroom is the place where students report for roll call in the mornings, and receive announcements and instructions before proceeding to their classes. It is a base, or a type of headquarters used as a safe place during emergencies. It is also where students’ desks are, in which they keep all of their personal belongings and treasured items. In this multimedia group exhibition, Home Room contemplates relationships between familiar people, places, and things and the inner life of the self. The clothes we wear, the things with which we live, and the places we have been are personified by the spiritual traces of our individual histories with which we mark them. We collect, preserve, memorialize, re-visit, and surround ourselves with things that are tethered to potent memories and emotions. The artists in Home Room explore the tremendous power inanimate objects and spaces have to reach out, remind, transform, possess, and heal, while considering where and if the self ends and the peripheral world begins.
Turiya Magadlela marries body with soul in sensual, autobiographical abstractions in which nylons stretched across canvas emulate gestural painting. The discreetly intimate pantyhose allude to skin, their transparency revealing the private self’s struggles with feminine eroticism, violence, and race relations. While Magadlela communicates corporeal identity through clothing, Nick Cave’s celebrated soundsuits cloak the body, providing protection against discrimination by masking superficial physical appearance, and acting as a sanctuary for the spirit. Repurposed household and historic objects such as buttons and toys are reconfigured as colorful armor, assigning a new identity of spontaneity, wonder, and fluidity to the person inside.
Our perception of the world around us and the connections we form are heavily influenced by the things with which we coexist. In Laurie Simmons’ compelling film, The Music of Regret, household objects and vintage child-craft puppets become living characters who explore painful familial and interpersonal relationships. In Simmons’ work, the emotional responses to domestic dynamics are conveyed through anthropomorphization, a quality that is subtly present in Becky Suss’ vacant, interior landscapes. The living spaces, painted from memory, reflect traces of bygone inhabitants observed in their choice of art and decorative objects. For Suss, absence illustrates the uncanny atmosphere of consciousness and its relation to space, but for Carlos Vega, the friends and family members in his work, also painted from memory, communicate this in their facial expressions. It is the impression of a person and the captured climate of a moment which transforms mimetics into something soulful. This transference is also seen in the carved busts of Claudette Schreuders. The unblinking eyes and serene demeanors of influential South African artists, family members, and political figures retain the uncanny essence of being and personal significance to her as the artist.
The works in this exhibition point to origins, anchoring the self to home, culture, and the human condition. Huma Bhabha’s sculptures, while influenced by the landscape of her childhood in war-torn Pakistan, are not specific to a particular place or event. The deep cuts and surface degradation bear witness to the passage of time, and question mankind’s destruction with omnipresent awareness. On a broader scale, Enrique Martínez Celaya seeks personal connections to the universe as a whole and a divine order in nature. His paintings portray imagery that represents the aspiring self’s desire to experience the exterior world without bias. Yet, for Michael Snow, it is exactly this bias that illustrates our existence as a matter of judgment. In his video and 2D work, real space is skewed to mimic confusion of perception, our own tunnel vision, with sensory experience and our dependence on its certainty. Unexpected conditions of banal subject matter, for instance a gust of wind upsetting the dinner table shared by a couple, challenge what we think we understand of domesticity and that which is familiar.
Concurrently on view is Titus Kaphar: Shifting Skies at 513 West 20th Street and 524 West 24th Street. Opening February 2nd is Richard Mosse at 513 West 20th Street and Yoan Capote at 524 West 24th Street. The School is open on Saturdays from 11am to 5pm. For additional information and photographic material please contact the gallery at email@example.com.
25 Broad Street, Kinderhook, NY 12106
tel. +1 518-758-1628 fax. +1 212 645 8316
Gallery hours: Saturdays from 11am-5pm, and by appointment.