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Subverted Genres

Sue Scott Gallery
1 Rivington Street, 212-358-8767
East Village / Lower East Side
May 5 - June 16, 2009
Reception: Tuesday, May 5, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

Curated by Gabriela Galati and Rebecca Mirsky

Kristopher Benedict, Ian Cheng, Cecile Chong, Vanessa Chimera, Damiano Colacito, Martin Gimenez, Josephine Halvorson, Joseph Hart, Allison Katz. Liz Magic Laser, Margaret Lee, Sebastiano Mauri, Dafna Maimon, Tom McGrath, Brian Montuori, Butt Johnson, Marilla Palmer, Elena Sisto

Traditional genres of painting were established at the French Academy, which was created under the rule of King Louis XIII in the 17th century. The genres were defined as historical, mythological, portraiture, landscape, and still life. In explaining discursive genres, the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin observed that people learn through imitation and manipulation. Genres come with social expectations — expectations that can then be reshaped, finessed, upstaged, and exploited. The eighteen artists included in this exhibition pay heed to the classic genres while reinterpreting them formally and conceptually.

Known for his landscapes, Tom McGrath turns his eye on 21st century landscape where his contemporary take on the pastoral sheds light on the blemishes and bruises of modern day America. Juxtaposing images from vintage children’s books with historic Chinese landscapes, Cecile Chong creates landscapes that address the process of cultural assimilation. Her cross-cultural narratives include such diverse materials as oil, Moroccan pigments, volcanic ash, rice paper, beads, copper leaves, and circuitry.

Marilla Palmer uses objects from the natural world and science to reinterpret nature in her mobiles and wall sculptures, which contain beads, bits of plastic, tree fungus, birch bark and small wire sculptures.

Brian Montuori’s deftly painted works offer a reinterpretation of history painting through the lens of disorder and chaos. These meta-narratives often depict animals placed in perilous situations - a circus train wrecking, a modern day Noah’s ark descending over Niagara Falls, robotic animals exploding - that are both tragic and humorous.

As Josephine Halvorson observed, “painting is a stilling of life. ” By focusing her smallscale renditions on objects often overlooked - a smoldering log, a boarded window, a discarded valentine - she elevates the things of everyday life. Damiano Colacito’s 21st Century still lifes recreate objects from digital video games. Through his sculptures, Colacito materializes virtual reality into actual reality. The work presented in this exhibition, C:-Cook, 2009 is taken from the video game with the same name.

Martin Giménez’s meticulously rendered monochromatic portraits and still lifes are informed by representational images—a man, a tree, a four-poster bed. Giménez is interested in creating scenes that consist of recognizable objects and gestures, yet are devoid of specific narrative.

Much of contemporary art is informed by the need to break with tradition, as it is to continue it. This exhibition looks at the way artists use materials and concepts to both challenge and acknowledge this tradition.
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