The 1972 film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is the starting point for Gary Simmons’ exhibition of paintings, drawings and monumental wall works. The film portrays apes enslaved by a repressive human society – the apes rebel and emerge victorious. An allegory of racial politics in America, specifically the 1965 Watts riots, it was shot in the Century City area of Los Angeles, where recently completed high-rises served as the perfect backdrop for the film’s futuristic dystopia. In Simmons’ works the buildings appear to be burning or disappearing as the artist employs his signature process of smudging and partially erasing the images. Similarly “erased” text-based paintings focus on related themes that point to historical conditions that persist in the present day.
Simmons has long explored social and political issues in his paintings, sculptures, drawings and site-specific installations creating works that are both powerful and poetic.
Gary Simmons lives in New York City. He graduated from the School of Visual Arts and received an MA from Cal Arts in Los Angeles. Last year his work was included in MoMA’s “Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making.” In 2006 he had a solo exhibition at the Bohen Foundation. A survey exhibition, organized by the MCA in Chicago and The Studio Museum of Harlem in 2002 also traveled to Site Santa Fe, New Mexico, where Simmons executed Ghost House, a series of drawings on the walls of an abandoned ranch house on Ruby Ranch. Other one-person exhibitions have been at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C., the Lannan Foundation in Los Angeles, St. Louis Art Museum and the Kunsthaus Zürich.