As the world’s most famous—and famously quotable—Pop artist once said: “My fascination with letting images repeat and repeat…manifests my belief that we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.” Andy Warhol’s statement rings even truer in the 21st century than it did in the late-20th century, when he produced it. While city dwellers are perhaps most saturated with things to see and not observe, televisions, computers, and a wealth of handheld devices ensure that no matter where someone lives, they can feed on a steady stream of all manner of images and messages, without really taking anything in. This visual overload continues to serve as fodder for artists working within the Pop idiom, including the five featured in “POP MOMENTUM,” the punchy summer exhibition at Artspace Warehouse.
On view are works by Johnny Taylor, Gerdine Duijsens, Gerhard Völkle, Frankie Alfonso, and Ashleigh Sumner, who all base their approach on keen and careful observations of the contemporary world in which we live, incorporating images from daily life, city streets, and consumer culture into their diverse compositions. Gerdine Duijsens brings viewers up close and personal to the effect of popular and celebrity culture on women in her acrylic-on-canvas paintings, Botox and Champagne #4 and Botox Beauty (both 2012). A woman’s sketchily rendered, smeared face fills both works edge-to-edge, appearing, paradoxically, both damaged and wrinkle-less. Not people, but products and snatches from advertisements, signs, packaging, graffiti, and graphic design fill Johnny Taylor’s mixed media paintings, collaged to mimic the cacophonous way in which they bombard us daily.
Ashleigh Sumner also looks to graffiti, as well as to gritty industrial urban areas, as inspiration for her textured, mixed media paintings like SATORI 2 (Enlightenment) (2012). Here repeating faces of a stone Buddha cover the picture plane in a gridded pattern, which disintegrates into an expressive, abstract mass toward the composition’s lower half. Though pop culture insists that money makes anything possible (love, happiness, beauty, intelligence, popularity), enlightenment, it seems, cannot be bought.