Mike Weiss Gallery is pleased to announce the group exhibition Reflexive Self.
The “reflexive self” is a view of self in the context of the people and situations around us. The show is comprised of five international artists of varying technique whose depiction of other and object explores the concept of self-reference and introspection in painting.
Canadian artist Kim Dorland’s thickly sculpted trees bear the marks of his own suburban adolescence and his teenage accomplices in debauchery. The cacophony of the scrawled graffiti causes the viewer to yearn for another look at childhood as Dorland’s playful impasto chunks seem to be the remnants of what’s left behind of youth. For Dorland, the development of self is a process involving the symbols, words, and gestures acquired from the society in which a person lives.
The daft young world of Berlin-based Stefanie Gutheil is densely laid onto the canvas with thick globs of “paint sausages” straight from the tube. Her monsters and creatures are a dizzy and imaginative recollection and caricature of her recent artist residency in Miami, of the wild parties and people she rubbed shoulders with. Exuberant as the artist’s imagination, her frenetic energy is captured and felt on the canvas.
While Stefanie’s realities become another exaggerated world, Kris Knight explores another dimension completely. Giving a safe haven to the rural misfits in his portraits, Knight draws upon personal stories and shifts the boundaries of self-definition. His bohemian and imaginative alter-egos attempt to transcend the tedium of small town life for the enigmatic depths of an enchanted forest. The chilled features of the face, red-nosed and bright-eyed, are an elusive depiction of the Canadian artist himself. Like the lost boys of Neverland, these familiar and empathetic characters are taken away to somewhere new.
The Dead Dads Club Corporation subverts fine art media, taking kids’ Crayola brand crayons to the surface of the paper to create disturbing but attractive scenes of death decaying. The Dead Dad’s Club relies on a fuck-you attitude and litany of self referential information to inform their practice and technique. In order to achieve their goal of being the best Crayola painters out there, they had to make sure they were the only Crayola painters out there. If self reflection is a continuous sociological process that takes place through interaction with others and by examining the world around us, then the DDCC removes themselves from the social structure by liberating themselves from the rules.
Marc Seguin, in recognition of his own reverence for the progenitors of abstract art, has defaced the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler with abstract expressionistic marks, a manifestation of the very concept that Hitler attempted to eradicate. Concurrent with their 1937 exhibition of “true German art,” the Nazis mounted an exhibition of abstract art, calling it “Degenerate Art” and explaining that it is the work of “fools, liars or criminals who belong in insane asylums or prisons.” Hitler seems to peer through the paint, annoyed that his legacy has been challenged. It’s quite curious to consider what we all might have become in his “true” vision, and what we are today because of its failure. Seguin sees himself as a product of the eventual failure of Hitler to destroy the human spirit for expression and creativity in art.