press release

Displaying prints, drawings, and sculpture, this exhibition is an examination of three of the most prolific and influential artists in America today.

The prints of Philip Guston are depictions of the artist’s conversations with himself, as he continues his personal mission to separate what is real and important from what is superfluous in his own world. Since the 1960’s, when the artist abandoned both New York City and abstract painting, Guston attempted to focus on the purity of a visual and moral reality. The prints exhibited here were mostly executed in the year before the artist’s death. With works such as Remains, one can see the messiness and grittiness that characterizes this period of time for him. These works also tend to be isolationist. In East Side, as the artist deals primarily with his own studio and the objects within it, choosing to ignore the false pretenses he believed were lurking on the other side of the studio door. We see the artist as one of the tools of his trade, and nothing more (or less).

Bruce Nauman’s prints establish the notion of text used as a sculptural medium in and of itself. Language becomes an object to construct and deconstruct often at the same time. The structural nature of the words comes into question, as changing the order of the letters affects one’s interaction with otherwise familiar forms. Nauman investigates the idea of destroying language, of denying communication with the viewer. In M.Ampere, the fragmentary sentence Rape Me is twisted around and almost hidden within the print’s gestural components. In works like Partial Truth and Suck Cuts, the only acknowledgement to the viewer is the presence of ambiguity. Nauman attempts to fulfill the artist’s duty to communicate with the viewer while at the same time keeping them an arm’s length away from his inner core.

Raymond Pettibon pulls fragments of thoughts and conversations out of the ether, much like Nauman and his disemboweled words. Each print and drawing is a combination of what are originally disparate sentences and images that, once placed together, create a temporary whole. His is a world where individual voices and scenes whirl into a violent cacophony. As seen in the Plots On Loan portfolios, Pettibon’s work is illustrative, but not cartoonish. The artist frequently revisits favorite issues (death, self identity, emotional clarity, life’s meaning, urban loneliness) and images (trains, bombs, Charles Manson, sex, the Church).

All three artists deal with bleak and complicated issues through a stripped-down process. As is the case with most things, elegance stems from the simplification of the complex. What centrally binds the artists together is their intense concentration on deconstruction, reflection, and interpretation. The viewer witnesses a serious contemplation of what we know, what we want, and even what we are seeing.

only in german

Philip Guston / Bruce Nauman / Raymond Pettibon