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Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects
535 West 22nd Street, 6th floor, 212-255-8450
July 9 - August 29, 2008
Reception: Tuesday, July 8, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Works by Ali Banisadr, Tracey Baran, Dean Byington, Amy Cutler, Ian Davis, Ori Gersht, Danny Jauregui, Julia Oschatz, and Matthew Schenning.

Conflicting moods of idealism and cynicism pervade the paintings, photographs, sculpture, drawings, and video created by an international group of artists.

Ali Banisadr was born in Iran in 1976 and came to live in the United States at the age of twelve. His paintings are lush evocations of a childhood marred by political unrest and the Iran-Iraq war. Hovering between abstraction and figuration, their beauty belies the traumatic nature of their subjects. Banisadr’s first one-person show will take place at the gallery this fall.

Similar juxtapositions of beauty and the grotesque are found in Dean Byington’s obsessively-detailed narrative landscapes, rendered in oil on canvas through a complex process of drawing, printing, and painting.

An earthly paradise is also suggested in Matthew Schenning’s photograph of a crater in the Serengeti Plain. Schenning wryly exposes the ways we experience the natural world by documenting seemingly Arcadian vistas that are easily accessible by car.

Ian Davis’s paintings are gentle critiques of a civilized world gone awry, in which uniformity trumps individuality, and all the characters are trapped in an absurdist game of endless waiting.

Sharing the title of Samuel Butler’s satirical 1872 novel about a seemingly utopian society in disarray, Julia Oschatz’s video Erewhon features another chapter in the ongoing odyssey of the Wesen, a tragi-comic being on a fruitless search for paradise. Oschatz, who lives and works in Berlin, was the subject of recent solo exhibitions at the gallery and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City.

Three new works on paper by Amy Cutler incorporate psychological narratives within pastoral landscapes, while Tracey Baran’s newest photographic self-portrait alludes to a modern-day Garden of Eden.

The exhibition marks the first New York presentation of works by Los Angeles artist Danny Jauregui, whose work is currently featured in Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Jauregui’s sculptures – the charred remains of an antique canary cage, used by coal miners to detect the presence of poisonous gas, and a text enacted from burnt wooden letters – consider both the process and aftermath of disaster.

A monumental photograph by Ori Gersht, an Israeli artist living in London, captures the sublime beauty in the literal explosion of a floral still-life.
Have photos of this show? Tag them with artcal-7534 to see them here.