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Tom Fruin, Signs of the Times

Y Gallery
165 Orchard Street, 917-721-4539
East Village / Lower East Side
April 1 - May 5, 2011
Reception: Friday, April 1, 6 - 10 PM
Web Site

Gallery is pleased to present Signs of the Times a solo exhibition by Tom Fruin curated by Cecilia Jurado. Tom Fruin takes us to a disconcertingly familiar place in which iconic symbols that define the characteristics of a nation – America – have been distended, relaxed and left vulnerable and waiting. We are presented with flags, street signs, playing cards, nooses, fires, and neon signs of fortune tellers. This is neither an apocalyptic stage, nor an eulogy of an American pride. Rather, Fruin presents a unique vision of who we are and what we have become: an amalgam of history with thick skin and a wary eye.

Fruin freely bends meaning and intention from the commercial noise of our surroundings to create personal statements. So it seems only natural that he focus on the most common and powerful sign of this country’s identity: the American flag. Several new works reinterpret this national symbol. Surrender (2010), an american flag with a lower-case “a” that the artist has recreated stripped of color, somehow becomes both a symbolic token for a racially blind utopia and an intolerant extreme. This work was initially inspired by the neon series, Necktie Party (2009), in which fruin subverts advertising language to broadcast an embarrassing and hidden facet of his national identity. Surrender (2011) seems to suggest a more contemplative thought: a silent counterpart to a jingoistic society of yesteryear. Accidental Flag (2010) surmises these sentiments. With silver spraypaint and vodka spills, this is at once a jubilee of revelry and a pathetic reminder that the party is over.

Several pieces in the exhibition seek the unknown in these uncertain times. A partially obscured psychic reader sign in Crystal Readings (2011) offers a glimmer of knowledge. 52 Pickup (2011) displays a series of lonely playing cards and the element of chance. Palm (2011) seems vaguely religious with an offer of redemption. Finally, Fruin offers hope. two new electric sculptures on the floor are formed from discarded glass signage. He has configured the remnants into fires. Firepit (2011) is an unruly mess of lit neon recreating the archetypal fire. As we know, fire is the harbinger of civilization, Fruin’s updated version questions the progress and suggests a return to innocence.

Tom Fruin was born in Los Angeles, California and attended University of California at Santa Barbara, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1996. He has exhibited in Haifa, Frankfurt, Salzburg, Geneva, Basel, Ontario, Berlin, Vienna and across the United States. His latest outdoor sculpture Kolonihavehus debuted in Copenhagen, Denmark composed of a 1000 pieces of found plexiglas in hand-welded steel will soon embark on a world tour from Prague to Buenos Aires. This will be Fruin’s first solo show with the Y Gallery.

At Y Gallery’s new space in 165 ORCHARD STREET.
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