Two American Painters Make their Mark at Art Cologne
At Art Cologne 2015, one of Germany’s leading art fairs, the Frankfurt-based Galerie Parisa Kind is presenting the work of not one but two American painters. One works with imagery that’s instantly identifiable with his country; the other offers a subtler message about contemporary life in the U.S.
The former, if you can guess from the hyperrealistic close-up of a hamburger in Square Double Red Split (2015), is Mike Bouchet. It’s no wonder that the artist, who now lives and works in Frankfurt, is fascinated with American consumerism and pop culture. Bouchet had the unique advantage of leaving the U.S. during his childhood—he moved to Spain with his family when he was nine years old—and returned to his native country as a teenager.
As the artist told Interview magazine, his interest in consumer culture was, and still is, a mixture of attraction and repulsion. “It was like how you can’t take your eyes off the train wreck,” he’s said of the culture shock of returning to the U.S.—which has motivated his work as an artist. Bouchet’s past projects include a floating factory-built house for the 2009 Venice Biennale and a piece where he airdropped a line of jeans produced in a Colombian sweatshop over the cities where they were made. He also paints highly detailed oils of classic American foods that are, to paraphrase the artist, both viscerally attractive and vaguely repulsive.
Parisa Kind is showing Bouchet’s works alongside paintings by fellow American Sayre Gomez. Compared to Bouchet, whose message is easier to digest (no pun intended), Gomez works in a more subtle, conceptual style. He’s long incorporated found images and text into his work—material pulled from blogs and online archives—in order to make artistic statements about the changing modes of communication in the contemporary world.
Sayre’s new pieces on display at Art Cologne are devoid of text, but characteristic of the artist’s style, which is grounded in formalism and partly inspired by more technical forms like typography and graphic design. Many of the pieces go untitled outside a description of their colors, as in Untitled Painting In Red Over Green (2015), creating in the viewer a mild sense of disorientation. And that’s exactly what Gomez is going for: he’s explained that he looks for subjects “that imbue a sense of familiarity yet remain difficult to place.”
Difficult to place, and yet somehow tied to their origins—this is what Bouchet’s and Gomez’s new paintings have in common, and it’s what makes them stand out this week in Germany.
Visit Galerie Parisa Kind at Art Cologne 2015, Hall 11.2, Booth B–40, Apr. 16–19, 2015.