SHANE SIMMONS: TELESCOPIC
March 7 – 29, 2014
Opening Reception: Friday, March 7th, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm
SHAWN BURKARD: Formations (Front Room)
HEATHER BENNETT: Rivington (New Media Room)
The opening reception will be Friday, March 7, 2014 from 5 to 9 pm. On the same night, Grand Center’s First Fridays will also be from 5 to 9 pm. Every first Friday of the month, museums and galleries in St. Louis’ Grand Center are free and open to the public until 9 pm.
Shane Simmons has spent the last few decades on the construction of an internal exploratory apparatus through the practice of painting, He sees painting as being entwined at the very root of the mysterious stage of our evolution in which we as a species invented a new type of power through the generation of culture, thereby acquiring some of our most essential tools for communication, propagation, and progress.
Believing that painting still holds promise as an effective method for accessing, describing, recording and transmitting the details of remote aspects of the human experience, he has sought to discover empirical information about the nature of the millennial struggle of the human animal to understand it’s self and its environment. He seeks to do so not only through a sincere pursuit of the perfection of the craft, but by simultaneously positioning himself in direct contact with a substantial sampling of a vast array of human artifacts old and new through his work as an art handler.
In this collection of paintings, he submits a record of images developed using this equipment and presents us with those visions. This show marks Kahler’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. A fully illustrated book accompanies the exhibition.
In the New Media Room, the gallery presents a video “Rivington” by Heather Bennett.
Rivington is a strangely telling document. Once the concept is set, the location rented, the props in place, composition directives given and make-up applied, there is only to sit in a rumpled white bed and play the part of the intended fiction. Rivington records 35 minutes of the last part of this process in the making of the image Charlotte in 2006. Charlotte is a tongue in cheek portrayal of the sexually charged cliché of the older, jaded woman preying on/being preyed upon by the carefree young man. It is a scene we all know but from no particular source. This version is intended to disrupt our acceptance with a paraphrase of the same media driven language with which we are acutely yet carelessly familiar, with a few major tweaks. The most predominate of which is a subject/object reversal. In the video, the artist taking the part of the woman is seen in the particular point of the image construction where the subject must play the object. The uncomfortable vacillation between the two is visibly palpable here. Our erstwhile Charlotte must subsume herself and imitate the object in order for the critique to function, however for the very same reason, the presence of the subject must remain. Hovering on this precipice, the subject slightly emerges and is demurely checked by the artist with a deference to those assisting who are capable of viewing the scene. The subject worries about the addition of unwanted props, scene cropping, the placement of the sunlight, silently, while impersonating the object. Around this struggle, we see the aesthetic recital of the composed scene with reality as a backdrop in the form of the typical surroundings of a photo shoot; an existing soundtrack, off camera banter between friends acting as assistants and the authoritative voice of the anonymous photographer keeping time.
As with the other pieces in the body of work entitled “Sidetrack,” Rivington leaves the artist slightly vulnerable and somewhat exposed as we are allowed to watch her struggle for the balance between forgery and criticism. She slowly metes out her control with a staccato reticence, wavering within the pregnant poles of her heated appropriation. Rivington is a circuitous document, which is made before the mechanisms of the finished piece take hold, giving us an ironic insight into the conclusions towards which the final work nudges. In the end, the male model for the ‘carefree young man’ pulls up his pants front and center of the camera and both figures walk away leaving us staring at an empty bed and maybe wondering what was there in the first place. Rivington was first shown in 2010 at the Stephan Stoyanov Gallery.
In the Front Room, the gallery presents an exhibition “Formations” by Shawn Burkard. This new series of small drawings formed through a gradual accumulation of odd geometric shapes overlapped to obscurity. They derived from the drawing process of ink lines that bleed through the paper onto the sheet of paper under the top layer. Each drawing layer stemmed from the drawing before it, like reverse erosion. Each drawing organically created the next drawing, a cycle of drawing and redrawing layers. This show marks Burkard’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. A f\ully illustrated book accompanies the exhibition.
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