cherrydelosreyes presents Paper Beats Rock, a group exhibition celebrating the power of paper in contemporary art, featuring artists William Basinski & James Elaine, Libby Black, Elliott Hundley, Ansel Krut, David X. Levine, and Charlotte McGowan-Griffin.
Paper is everywhere in daily life and mostly maintains a level of very pedestrian quality, however in art it is elevated to the bearer of purportedly important images. Responding to current enthusiasm for works on paper and sculpture, cherrydelosreyes presents an exhibition where paper holds the power and integral focus of the art. The works in Paper Beats Rock were all chosen for their varied relationships with paper and diversity of uses.
As in the international hand signals game “rock, paper, scissors', paper beats rock because it is ultimately more malleable than rock and covers it. Each artist employs paper as a counterpart to paint, colored pencil, ink, and even music or light. The works in Paper Beats Rock have a theatrical involvement with paper. It is the star of these works, playing a demanding role instead of passively acting as a precious surface for images.
William Basinski and James Elaine produced a collaborative super-8/video, Trailer for 1000 Films (1998), which documents a black and white ballet of paper fluttering through the sky during a ticker tape parade. Accompanied by a flowing, eerie and melancholic electronic music loop, Trailer for 1000 Films emotes memory, nostalgia and beauty in a film noir style as perfectly dressed business people trudge somnolently through ankle deep paper in lower Manhattan's financial district: a pas-de-deux for the apocalypse. James Elaine will also exhibit ink and paper drawings.
Libby Black employs paper to construct crude sculptures of invented, designer luxury items. By making Gucci golf bags or a Louis Vuitton scooter out of paper, Black pulls these items down to lay terms and mass-market means. For Paper Beats Rock, Black plays off another meaning for “Rock' in the title as in rock-n-roll. She created Private Dancer, 2005, a Louis Vuitton boom box ala the 1980’s, complete with headphones, a cassette tape case and such selections as Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Rod Stewart and Janet Jackson.
Elliott Hundley creates multi-faceted worlds out of found paper, photographs of family and friends and other ephemeral materials. His ability to make seemingly delicate works hold such imagination and power is compelling. An accumulative process guides him from piece to consecutive piece while complex and intertwined content is left for the viewer to unravel as far as they are willing to go. He presents a new wall piece for this exhibition, Medea’s Craft.
Ansel Krut reminds the viewer of the often unforgiving qualities of paper and how artists must battle with it to extract their intent. Drawing on the tradition of graphic satire and black humor more usually associated with popular arts: flysheets, illustrated broadsheets and cartoons, these images depict a barbaric and uncertain world, one that oscillates between cruel and comic extremes. All made with brush and ink on prepared paper and executed with deceptive simplicity and directness their small scale belies their vitriolic viewpoint.
David X. Levine uses only one brand of paper for his work; Fabriano Artistico, hot press. It has just enough tooth to take the pencil, but not too much to bury the color in it in a way that does not allow it to literally and figuratively ride the top of the paper. Levine works layers of color over the paper and even buffs it down to a smooth finish. Often, Levine allows the paper to show the wear of the process. Creating abstract images through a process of synethesia, Levine occasionally employs random words from the music he’s visioning. Here too the double meaning for “rock' surfaces.
Charlotte McGowan-Griffin has been producing layered cut-paper pieces that seem to illustrate Grimm fairytales, fears and fantasies. During a recent residency in Japan, McGowan-Griffin began creating shoji screens with her cut paper scenes projecting light and video behind them. It was this dramatic work that inspired the exhibition. For Paper Beats Rock she has created new tondo light boxes for Night-Sea Crossing.