Lisa Cooley is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Mark Barrow, Anthony Pearson, and Blinky Palermo. This will be the first of a series of three-person shows at the gallery juxtaposing a canonical artist with both an established and an emerging figure. A catalogue will be published at the conclusion of the series. The exhibition opens with a reception on Sunday, January 14th from 6 until 8 pm and continues through February 22nd, 2009.
The exhibition begins with a materials-based look at abstraction, focusing on work that not only plays with the possibility of being both painting and sculptural object, or object and photograph, but which also takes a conceptual approach to its use of a particular medium or mediums. Tonally, the work tends toward the introspective and idiosyncratic, towards a vision that is personal, even eccentric, rather than purely academic. In assembling a group of rather quiet, thoughtful works, the exhibition proposes that our expectations of how a work of art and its meaning are disseminated and absorbed might be undergoing a shift in conjunction with that of the art world’s own rapidly-changing infrastructure. It offers a set of ways to take stock, to apply the lessons of past innovation to the demands of the present with patience and care.
In his paintings, Mark Barrow draws a focused parallel between abstraction and folk art; both, he argues, are craft-based traditions that convey particular social values. In highlighting this equivalence, Barrow aims to at once demystify abstraction via a determinedly straightforward approach, and to utilize the idea of folk as an alternative to linear (read: modernist) cultural history. To make the three exhibited works, Barrow hand-loomed and stretched sheets of linen, then painted each surface to highlight the particular pattern of its weave.
Fabric crops up again in the work of Blinky Palermo. The late German artist’s “Stoffbild” (Material Painting) series of the late ’60s is composed of stretched, stitched-together squares of colored cloth, and suggests that everyday materials may lend themselves to abstraction just as readily as pointedly “artistic” ones. It also implies that the context in which such work is presented may be as significant as its internal composition. Palermo’s is a quietly provocative art; it challenges the idea that abstraction must be rarified and isolated from everyday experience, and that conceptual and formal elements can ever flourish in isolation.
Finally, Anthony Pearson also interrogates the interpolation of the “real” into the world of the abstract, specifically in the context of the convergence of abstraction and photography. In his digital print, Pearson also suggests that our subjective experience of time and space may find its equivalent in our physical-perceptual relationship to an autonomous object. The focus of this atmospheric shot, a radiant white circle, is actually a manipulated image of lens flare—a rude representational interruption into an otherwise seamlessly abstract world. Also on view are smaller prints shown alongside column-like bronze sculptures, a juxtaposition that similarly highlights the ever-fluctuating relationship between object and image.
Mark Barrow was born in 1982 and currently lives and works in New York. He graduated with an MFA from Yale in 2006. In 2008, he was the subject of a solo exhibition at White Columns and also appeared in Creswell Crags at Lisa Cooley.
Anthony Pearson was born in 1969 and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He graduated with an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1999. He has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Midway Contemporary Art, David Kordansky Gallery, and Shane Campbell Gallery, and is in the collection of the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Blinky Palermo was born Peter Schwarze in Leipzig in 1943. He studied with Joseph Beuys at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and, in 1964, appropriated the name “Blinky Palermo” from an American boxing promoter and Mafioso. Before his death in 1977, Palermo participated in more than seventy exhibitions and represented Germany at the São Paulo Bienal in 1975. He has had posthumous retrospectives at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur (1984) and the Kunstmuseum Bonn (1993). His final work, To the People of New York City, 1976–77, was shown at Heiner Friedrich Gallery, New York, in 1977, and at the Dia Center in 1987.