Reflecting the same profound sense of longing heard in Ella Fitzgerald’s classic rendition of “How High the Moon”, Christopher Tanner’s new work channels personal and political concerns into glittering abstractions whose opulent and deceptively decorative surfaces reveal a dark and brooding romanticism. Tanner’s imagery is replete with nocturnal presences – psychedelic visions of owls, moths and other night creatures weave in and out of his intricately patterned paintings and drawings. They point knowingly to hidden dangers lurking in the night, while guarding us from evils yet to be revealed. The current exhibition features three large-scale mixed-media paintings that combine Tanner’s signature combination of reflective materials and vibrant color with elaborate embroideries and engraved texts. Using the language of glamour and illusion – glitter, large paillette sequins, faux jewels, plastic reflectors and paint – Tanner draws us into a rhythmic dance with the picture surface. While his optical performances have usually brimmed with optimism and whimsy, the new works reflect a more somber attitude toward the perilous times in which we live.
Tanner’s “glitter drawings” are realized on strips of vintage wallpaper samples from the late 1920s and center on the iconic figure of the wise and at times fierce owl. Drawn with a mixture of glitter, sand and gel medium over traditional patterns of battleships, paisleys and flowers, these intricate works simultaneously evoke the simple pleasures of a more innocent past and the omnipresent dangers posed by our current political climate. For Tanner, owls not only represent the strength of the women in his life, but the knowledge they bestow.
Christopher Tanner has exhibited both in New York and abroad since the mid-1980s. This is his third solo exhibition with PAVEL ZOUBOK GALLERY. In 2005 he had his first museum exhibition at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Boulder, CO). His performance work includes collaborations with Penny Arcade, Bloolips, Karen Finley, Cyndi Lauper, David Lynch, The Wooster Group and Lance Cruce.