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Ian Ingram: Divining

Barry Friedman Ltd.
515 West 26th Street, 212-239-8600
March 4 - April 17, 2010
Reception: Thursday, March 4, 5:30 - 8 PM
Web Site

“We know that life delivers constant changes both welcome and unwelcome; gray days of melancholy, moments of shining sunlit ecstasy, wrenching psychological storms from loss and tragedy. This is everyman’s lot. To watch it play out over many years on the topography of one face remains a revealing journey.” – Garth Clark, art critic, writer, art dealer

Barry Friedman Ltd. is pleased to present the New York debut of contemporary artist Ian Ingram featuring his newest body of self-portraits. Ingram has spent the past 2 ½ years working on this highly anticipated series of large-scale drawings. The exhibition, Divining, will be accompanied by a full-color catalogue with a feature essay by Garth Clark, published by Barry Friedman Ltd.

Ian Ingram’s work is often about moments of transition, points in life when change occurs. His self-portraits are autobiographical reflections of meaningful events, such as his wedding, or the birth of his child. Ingram describes these emotional moments as “times when a decision or an action changes your entire worldview. The image is of leaving one world and pushing through to another.” His hyper-realistic and intensely emotional self-portraits arrest the viewer with a direct gaze that at times seems almost uncomfortably intimate. Art critic Kristin Barendsen states, “Viewing these intense self-portraits isn’t like looking at another person-its like being another person looking in the mirror, searching for meaning inside your own brilliant eyes.” Drawings are often considered the most direct connection between an artist and his ideas, and Ingram’s self-portraits are no exception. Beyond serving as a vehicle to relay his feelings to the outside world, Ingram’s drawings become unflinching windows into his subconscious, and serve as a tool for his own self-reflection and rumination.

Ian Ingram’s tightly rendered canvases are realistic yet dreamlike, and demonstrate a range of techniques. From dramatic contrasts of light, dark, and line, to organic methods of cross contours, grids, and blending, each method plays a role in building the subtleties, nuances, and porous surfaces of the human face. Working with a base of charcoal, pastel, ink, and watercolor, Ingram also incorporates more unconventional materials, such as beads, beeswax, metallic thread, silver leaf, string, and even butterfly wings. The embrace of these organic patterns and mediums has become a critical component to Ingram’s creative process and has increased the aesthetic complexity of his finished works.

Garth Clark explains, “Take each drawing, remove everything extraneous and focus on the face unadorned. Do this again and again and it becomes clear…what makes [Ingram] so unique in an otherwise crowded genre. He is a mapmaker of his face with a particular specialization, topography. Topography is the precise recording of rising and falling contours that illustrate the three-dimensional matrix of a particular region or landmass. And this is what Ingram does to his face. [Ingram has taken] a handsome face and converted it into startlingly rugged terrain; huge pores, a hillock of a nose, stubble that looks like steel cable, and fissured lips that could pass for an arroyo.”

Ingram’s work is included in numerous private collections, as well as the permanent collection of the De Young Museum in San Francisco, CA, and the Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY. Ingram was born in 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, and currently lives and works in Austin, Texas.
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