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Matthew Brannon, Gentleman’s Relish

Casey Kaplan Gallery
525 West 21st Street, 212-645-7335
October 27 - December 17, 2011
Reception: Thursday, October 27, 6 - 8 PM
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Casey Kaplan is extremely proud to present the gallery’s first solo exhibition Gentleman’s Relish with New York based artist, Matthew Brannon. Utilizing our three separate gallery spaces, the project presents: new silkscreen and letterpress prints, paintings, sculptures, and a series of collaborative artworks with the designer and artist, Carlo Brandelli. These artworks suggest various props, personas, sets, dialogues, and scenarios of an unpublished noir mystery narrative (written by Brannon) ­– the plot of which involves a sexually frustrated private detective who is hired to investigate a murder whose prime suspect is a sexually deviant dentist.

The exhibition is structured as three separate locales within the three rooms of the gallery. Sculptural doors with hand-painted signage written backwards: “Adult’s Only,” “Powder Room,” and “Police Station” displace the viewer into a fictitious world. Silkscreen and letterpress text-based prints, labeled “Act I”, “Act II”, and “Act III”, imply events that may yet happen­­ or have already occurred.

The first gallery presents a sculptural bar housing innumerable hand-carved liquor bottles and glasses, alluding to decadence and excess, and the room is charged with a sense of impending demise. In the second gallery, the suspense heightens within two simultaneously occurring scenes – an elaborate apartment party and the crowded lobby leading to it – where two characters run into each other, and someone is killed. A desk with a single letter resides in the third gallery. On the wall, a text-based silkscreen begins, “In his office. End of the night. Difficult Jazz Playing in the Background. Sound of air conditioning. Sound of breaking pencils. Hitting the delete button…,” and ends, “…He’d been hired to help someone but he knew the real job was murder. All your life you think you’re this one person and then you find out you’re not and it’s only a moment before it’s over.”

The plot is nearly revealed, however intrigue prevails, as the climax remains unseen. It is set in the bar of a London central train station where a character, guilty of murder, is waiting for the police to arrest him. Brannon’s solo presentation at Frieze Art Fair in London (October 12 – 16, 2011) has functioned both as the prologue and the finale of this exhibition.

The adaptation of Brannon’s noir mystery attests to the crucial role of text and narrative within his practice. The exhibition exemplifies the diversity of media within it; his trademark letterpress and silkscreen prints anchor the plot, and are aided by sculptural elements and objects such as hand carved foam and wood works, larger installations, and floral and collaged prop-like paintings. The disjunction of the narrative and its displaced presentation – both spatially and temporally – emphasize the complexities of Brannon’s work, whose practice interweaves fiction and sublimated desires, with reality and satire.
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