STUX Gallery is pleased to present Chicago based artist Scott Anderson in his first New York solo exhibition Join or Die: New Paintings. This exhibit is done in cooperation with Kavi Gupta Gallery Chicago/Berlin and is accompanied by a catalogue. In his new series of paintings, Anderson continues with his preoccupation with the theme of “Hero Worship” and its associated imagery with visions of post-apocalyptic meltdown and crumbling utopias.
In his work, Anderson frequently uses narrative qualities and compositions, which reference religious painting and/or classic pastoral landscapes lending them a twist of certain prophetic wisdom. Despite the strong parallels with classic painting techniques, Anderson uses distorted logic and only a slight observance of the laws of physics in presenting his work. This builds certain uneasiness in the frame of his images, suggesting chaos and only minimal order, a feeling that is often yearned for in our modern youth culture.
Anderson’s images are neo-surreal, fantastical depictions of a world in rubble. He considers the stories told in his work as:
“analogous to various moments of cultural and political upheaval, such as the naïve embrace of unchecked capitalism in the American Revolution, and the inevitable fascism of the Russian Revolution.”
The paintings are littered with symbols of nationalism and war: flags, military coats with epaulettes, and weapons, as well as fantastic creatures: horses with faces that resemble men and lions, Pan-like sorcerers, and deformed humans. Tribal and religious references build a new mythology in a future where only fragments of the past survive. The message is prophetic and condemning. The story is cyclical. Titles such as Alliance and Declaration incite hope and ensue that the chaos will be overcome in time. However, we have seen the repercussions of failed utopia that carries its own demise. This cyclical nature of culture and politics is certainly present in the history of art. Anderson parallels his work with such notions as well:
“One often hears of the ‘death of painting’, or the ‘end of history’. I have acknowledged those facts, and see in them as opportunity to rebuild from the rubble.”
STUX Gallery is delighted to present Cruel Beauty: New Sculptures, a series of new sculptures by Dutch artist Marliz Frencken. After an extensive exhibition history throughout Europe, Frencken’s first solo exhibition in the United States in many years features her quasi-surreal sculptures of female figures brimming with paradox and symbolism.
Frencken has developed a unique sculpting technique in which she dips clay sculptures adhered with a variety of found objects in clear resin to create fairy tail-like women. The vibrant colors and the layering of curious and playful items such as perfume bottles, birds and babies is counteracted by the menacing addition of swords and pins which puncture their flesh, as barcodes and logos hang from various body parts. Their distorted, elongated, strange figures recall a diverse range of female ideals, all equally engrossing yet even sometimes macabre. Coated in a clear, dripping resin and bound up in coils of clay and cloth these women appear to be trapped or frozen in time, like specimens of a larger population. Through their voodoo-like qualities they reveal secret desires and fixations of modern women that we all can identify with.
A sense of ripe feminine sexuality emanates from most of these figurines. Specific elements, such as the religious and cultural artifacts, are presented in provocatively violent and sexual ways. As Frencken places these women in the stance of the Pieta protected by halos made of Nivea containers or in Burkas open at the front revealing chests tattooed with the bearded faces of men, Marliz builds a mix of social criticism, consumerism, religion, and purity. Sometimes babies drop from between the figure’s legs or come draped over her arms and laps like furs suggesting that she is simply dripping with a fertility to which she is indifferent. The animals, babies, and obscure headdresses make her surreal even monstrous at times. This coupling of femininity with physical and psychological deformity is one of many strange relationships and paradoxes these sculptures evoke. Frencken works in a delicate balancing act along the narrow dividing line between art and kitsch. As the great European curator, Jan Hoet the director of the Museum MARTa Herford in Germany, who discovered Marliz Frencken, once wrote:
“The sculptures appear equally attractive and repulsive, enchanting and sinister, figurative and abstract, precious and kitschy.”