Anna Kustera Gallery is proud to present The Raw and the Cooked, an exhibition by three artists, Carla Arocha-Stéphane Schraenen, Joe Graham-Felsen and Dominic Nurre, whose use and exploration of physicality and psychology, creation and decay, superficiality and the deeper meaning are all common denominators to their work. For this exhibition, the title of Claude Levi-Strauss’s seminal work of structuralist anthropology has been purposefully appropriated, underscoring the inherent dualities – binary oppositions – in each artist’s work.
The physicality of Antwerp-based artists, Carla Arocha – Stéphane Schraenen, leverages software technologies and 21st century production methods to create sublime objects with deeper emotional and psychological content that contrasts with superficial allure. For Arocha – Schraenen, the focus is less on objects as manifest things and more with perception of things as objects. The overt presence of the formal and conceptual in Arocha – Schraenen’s work can be deceptive. Everywhere – whether bluntly opaque or deceptively transparent – we encounter an inherent narrative. Two digital prints on leather, “Gloria” and “Untitled (Chris),” respectively reference desperation and decay (Gloria Swanson in the film Sunset Boulevard) and death (Chris Farley’s accidental drug overdose in his Chicago apartment.) Similarly, “CCTV,” a framed digital print on glass and mirror, captures a security camera image of a decaying mansion suffocating under invasive creeping foliage.
The work of Boston native, Joe Graham-Felsen, is a disambiguation and synthesis of several artistic practices. Here and there, the gallery visitor might think: Absalon, Vito Acconci, Tom Burr, Robert Gober, Donald Judd, Gordon Matta-Clark, Bruce Nauman, Jason Rhoades, and Andrea Zittel. Encountering his work is like a synaptic function triggering a chain reaction. He synthesizes elements into something entirely new, using found materials and home improvement and construction products. Through his materials, he examines and comments on the physical body as object in extreme situations – war, interrogation, restraint, torture, violence, and captivity – evoking genuine psychic discomfort, fear and confrontation. His meticulous production techniques transform the mundane materials he uses into sublime, formidable art works.
Dominic Nurre’s work often uses found and banal materials, combined with photography, that he reworks to give them entirely fresh meaning. Using vintage 1960s nude “male model” magazine photographs, he obliterates the model’s penis, rendering it as a cosmic burst of primal, perhaps orgasmic, energy. His hand-carved, hand-painted, and wax-rubbed sticks are a masturbatory gesture, transforming manufactured wooden boards into something that suggests their original state – tree branches – while, in the context of the artist’s output, equating itself with the phallic. Finally, “Torso”, an amputated (armless) backpack abandoned by construction workers, betrays its own nonchalance, echoing the unnerving context of Nurre’s erasure photographs.
The Raw and the Cooked is a curatorial collaboration between Anna Kustera, Gregory Linn and Clayton Press (LINN I PRESS, art advisory services)