Mike Weiss Gallery is proud to present Tunnel Vision, the second solo show at the gallery by Los Angeles based artist Christian Vincent. This show consists of eight large-scale oil paintings, in which the artist deconstructs notions of the collective.
In comparison with Vincent’s previous body of work, Tunnel Vision is notably reduced in palette, line, and narrative. Even the subject matter, while adhering to the male figure, is more stark and streamlined. Vincent is not concerned with mastering anatomical expertise but rather with conveying a polemical undertone, and intentionally leaves the works in contentious balance, overlapping political propaganda and Pop culture.
It is upon immediate encounter with the works that their massive scale divulges their confrontational underpinning. Being larger than human size, the boys depicted in the canvases are turned into monumental objects that intimidate, demand attention and inspire awe. The paint is thick but flat, as Vincent carefully sands down the remnants of his brushwork, thereby symbolically removing his fingerprints from the works and allowing them to exist autonomously. Much akin to early to mid twentieth-century mass-printed wartime propaganda, the identity of the artist is usurped by the message of unity, solidarity and conformity.
In “Line Up”, viewers are met with a descending row of young boys that cuts a sharp diagonal across the canvas. The convergence point on the horizon is eliminated, hinting at the infinitesimal continuation of the lineup. Despite the boys’ petite forms, they are endowed with noticeably large heads, becoming cloned eugenic man-child hybrids. Their nearly eyeless faces speak of their blind faith in a figure that could evoke as much spiritual benevolence as it could mass destruction.
Group devotion is not meant to be outright rejected as much as challenged in these works. These scenes could be culled from a rock concert or a cult gathering, a private boy’s school outing or a militia camp – all of which are unified in the worshipping of a messianic figure to which the masses turn to for salvation and guidance. The desire for empowerment through belonging, while seductive, is hinged on the acceptance that a person’s dream would inevitably be sacrificed for a collective.
Christian Vincent (b. 1966) currently lives and works in Los Angeles and has been widely exhibited throughout the United States.