Jeff Bailey Gallery is pleased to present Mark Shetabi: The Apparent Motion of Stationary Objects. In paintings and sculpture, Shetabi explores the grey area between representations of time, scale and space.
The small painting, My Favorite Year, depicts the earth in 1990 as seen from the Voyager 1 spacecraft. The photograph was taken at a distance of almost four billion miles. It is an image that the astronomer Carl Sagan made famous, characterizing the earth as “a pale blue dot”. Sagan said, “Look again at the dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us….all of human history has happened on that tiny pixel.”
Using this image as a point of departure, Shetabi presents the viewer with a variety of familiar objects, both large and small, seen from up close and from far away. A monochromatic palette in subdued tones links one image to the next.
A 1970s encyclopedia and old natural history catalogues served as source material for some of the works. Two paintings by Shetabi feature dinosaur skeletons presented in period museum settings. In Afterimage, Brontosaurus, the dinosaur stands on four legs with its tail dragging behind it. In reference books and memory, these creatures remain fixed in their time, even as our knowledge of them has changed. What were once accepted models take on new lives as relics.
Sculptures of slide projectors (now an obsolete technology), are simply constructed in painted wood with light beams forming a solid mass.
Two large paintings depict oil tankers from up close perspectives. In Tanker in Dry Dock, shipyard workers paint the hull of a massive vessel, their size trumped by the expansive scaffolding surrounding the ship. Tanker Adrift places the viewer on the wet and pitching deck of a huge oil tanker, seemingly adrift in a turbulent sea.
Other images for paintings are taken from internet surfing. Random car crashes are presented as distinct occurrences. As source material, the vastness of the web dwarfs what could once be found in an encyclopedia. By isolating events and objects, Shetabi invites the viewer to ruminate on history and time.
This is Shetabi’s third solo exhibition with the gallery. His work has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States. He is a 2002 recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Shetabi lives and works in Philadelphia, where he is Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing at Tyler School of Art.