Colby Bird will make his solo New York debut with an exhibition of new work at CRG this March.
The show includes sculptural and photographic works arranged throughout the gallery. Bird has developed an extensive artistic vocabulary of appropriated materials such as electrical wiring, light fixtures, furniture, and household accessories. These raw commercial artifacts stand in contrast to his pristine photographs, but the conversation that develops between artist, object, and representation establishes a surprising equivalency between the two mediums.
Bird’s work considers the spaces between high-art production, middle-class comforts, and street-cred status. In the diptych Manifest Bird juxtaposes a photograph of a rubber Tupac Shakur mask with a printed reproduction of “In the Mountains” by landscape painter Albert Bierstadt. As if to question his right to incorporate Tupac directly, Bird grants himself access through a determined means of distancing—presenting an image of an image of the cultural icon, who has become a powerful symbol of personal and political self-determination for Bird. In its reproduced poster-form, the Bierstadt represents the most accessible form of an already accessible art. The desire for ease of access and an ability to communicate is at the heart of Bird’s creative impulse, yet his work reveals an awareness that the very same impulse strips art of its power through democratization.
Bird’s photographs present proof of an intimate relationship with the subjects he chooses to capture. Through careful selection and framing, Bird articulates the personal and authentic nature of his relationship with his subjects. A similar authenticity extends to his sculptural practice. In many of these sculptures, the prominent vertical planes and touches of graffiti speak to the artist’s contentious engagement with painting. The machismo, romance, and canonical heft of the medium is utilized without the presence of a proper “painting” in the exhibition.
Engaging the space prominently is a billboard-sized vinyl banner, gloss black, with the word “SWAGGER” in towering purple letters, at once reminiscent of mass-produced urban advertisements and the handmade paper banners of sporting events. The banner gains power from the familiarity of its material as well as its strong directive to the viewer, but is castrated by the constraining nature of the gallery space.
Colby Bird is included in numerous private collections as well as a number of public collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art. Upcoming museum shows include the PatinoMuseum, Santa Cruz, Bolivia. He received his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004.
Concurrent with the exhibition is the publication of a series of new prints by Colby Bird titled “Framed Posters”. The edition is published by CRG Editions and will be on view during the exhibition. Contact CRG Editions for availability: [email protected]