Venetia Kapernekas is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Robert McCurdy. The show introduces seven photographs as superficial studies of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century genre of Dutch flower painting. The original Dutch paintings are in-and-of-themselves impossible pictures; the temporal lifespan of plucked flowers far exceeds the time required to paint them. Thus the scenes depict a moment that never really existed they create a false reality. The scenes arrangements created with the help of a third-generation Dutch florist and a fabricator from the American Museum of Natural History who created the small creatures the snails, frogs, lizards etc. The scenes were then wired into place; in doing this, McCurdy has created a moment that is not natural, one that places the centerpiece in an airless environment. Juxtaposing the flowers against the cavernous black backgrounds, he harkens to the later styles of minimalism and proto-minimalism in which the object is the experience and the center of attention. The ephemeral nature of the photograph then places the viewer as the link between the past and the present.
In McCurdy’s previous show at the gallery, Landscapes 2007, he presented scenes of proto-cinematic landscapes imbued with a terrestrial presentness. Small objects perform as surrogates, stand-ins for a melodramatic or romanticized reality that lies somewhere between Casper David Friedrich and Hitchcock. Concurrently McCurdy has been working on a series of Portraits depicting notable personalities such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Toni Morrison, and Nelson Mandela. Each painting utilizes much the same process. He says “During the [portrait] sitting, I look for a sustainable moment; one where there is no before or after. It is why there is no movement, expression or gesture…The image is reported rather than interpreted.”
Robert McCurdy has been exhibiting his photography and paintings for the past thirty years, always continuing his investigation of creating something other than the moment, but by drawing it out, making it resonate into an experience. He has previously shown at the Frye Museum, Seattle; Jack Shainman Gallery, New York; The National Portrait Gallery, Washington D.C. Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; Nancy Solomon Gallery, Atlanta, Georgia; Le Tresors des Arts, Gstaad, Switzerland; Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington; and Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, among others. McCurdy attained his BFA at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and received an Arts Fellowship from Yale University. This is his third show with Venetia Kapernekas since 2001.