I’ve been thinking about guilt lately. (The guilt I felt at taking two years to get this tiny, four-person show off the ground, for instance.) There’s a guilt that niggles and lingers when I don’t do something—an act that would be true to me, myself. But instead, I go and do something else.
Guilt is like a boomerang; it hits you in the back of the head when you throw it away. You’ve got to de-program it by re-charting your mental map. It’s almost like you’ve got to re-write your own software while running on the old hardware…or something like that.
As a writer, however, I’m not totally powerless in this. Indeed, I had a little fun with the idea, and created a new fiction.
So, I scratched out the “U” in the title…
When you take out that single vowel, you’re left with something shiny, shallow, and, well, kinda pretty. Something that’s rather seductive.
Now that it’s gone, I can ask: was the “U” me? Was the “U” you—as in, “I’m talking to you, Guilt, here”?
My personal hope is that if I can personify this dialectic, maybe I can beat it.
I think of this show as my own kind of illustrated “Fuck U.”
Meet the artists
The artists in this show have both paid their dues (they’ve made solid bodies of work) and made their peace with living on the edge. Their work is honest, raw, unafraid of hybrid forms—in short, no regrets, no pulled punches. They’re four getting-to-be-known artists, living in NYC in 2011, whom I feel deserve to be better known.
(along with her partner, Kevin Regan) runs a groundbreaking, salon-style gallery in Ridgewood, Queens. Her own work is a tumultuous hybrid of printed images (ads from fashion magazines are a favorite), which she appropriates, rips, and otherwise reconfigures in ways inscrutable and disturbing. Boldly baring her process to the viewer, Letcher uses paint like glue, slathering the back of her ripped up imagery with it. Uneven, rectilinear borders are left where the paint (now adhesive) was first applied, adding new linear play to the compositions.
Elsewhere here Letcher shows one of our favorite — and unsung — new mediums: the computer-desktop screenshot. Check out the glare of office lights reflected in Ellen’s monitor; it makes for a sweet visual visual noise (not unlike those of her estranged lines of pigment), at the same time imparting a creepy luminosity to the subject matter at hand: children’s skeletons, weird fashion silhouettes, consumer products…
Chilean-born, Queens-based artist Pablo Tauler makes near-ambient, yet tightly focused, drawings out of of hundreds of fine ballpoint-pen lines layered one atop the other. The artist’s delicate touch belies his personally freighted subject matter: actual events from Tauler’s adolescent years spent in suburban Maryland, where he somehow managed to slouch towards manhood, finding his artistic identity along the way.
A number of abstract works complement the figurative selection; all the better to illustrate how adroit Tauler is at toggling between the universal and the specific.
is a classically trained and apocalyptically minded painter, born in Rome and based in Brooklyn. An avid reader and Internet surfer, he culls his imagery from Google searches and fuses them into compositions that draw as much on Renaissance art history as they do on Marvel Comics. Some of the works you see here are from the artist’s Twitter series (yes, that’s Karl Popper and Charles Darwin being tweeted upon); while Masci’s miasmic, mirrored images on a single subject (“Nature,” “Religion”) are actually digital prototypes that the artist first creates in Photoshop, then later realizes in massive oil paintings called “Totems” that tower nine feet high.
Manhattan-based artist Alfred Steiner knows his art history as well as he knows his Pop Culture; unafraid to look deeply into both, he unlocks their potential for disgorging primordial, Dystopian themes. Boccioni’s “Walking Man” is interpreted by Steiner as stripped muscles and cartilage (albeit beautifully wrought); cartoon characters Marge and Maggie Simpson are limned with eyeballs and ganglia gone askew. All of Steiner’s fictional figures are faithfully rendered, their silhouettes perfectly recognizable. Meanwhile, the body parts that comprise them (noses, mouths, teeth) are so familiar as to be almost alien. Does art imitate life, or vice versa? Steiner makes us look closely at what lurks just under the skin.