“NEW YORK BY NIGHT” CURATED BY SPENCER SWEENEY
2018.03.23 - 2018.05.06
Artists: Korakrit Arunanondchai | Lizzi Bougatsos | Verne Dawson | Brian Degraw | Peter Doig | Urs Fischer | Gerasimos Floratos | Cy Gavin | Jacqueline Humphries | Marcus Jahmal | Sadie Laska | Danny McDonald | Eliz- abeth Peyton | Pieter Schoolwerth | Agathe Snow | Spencer Sweeney | Rirkrit Tiravanija
HdM Gallery Beijing is pleased to present "New York by Night", Spencer Sweeney's personal artistic journey through the streets of the New York from the late 90's until today. Bringing works selected and assembled by Spencer Sweeney himself, the exhibition brings together 17 of the most celebrated artists from New York's creative community.
Spencer Sweeney is New York Downtown’s cultural magnate. As an artist, he defies categories, even if most of his practice revolves around painting, which often beams with colors through mystical pop themes. He is also a musician, and a former club owner and a DJ. He seems to need public exposure to unlock his complete potential. But Sweeney is more than the sum of all this. For the past 20 years, he has been the catalyst, the galvanizer, the activator of one of the most creative communities of New York City. “New York by Night” is a celebration of this community.
Spencer Sweeney curated this exhibition using his most important personal encounters in New York as a compass. The artworks presented here don’t follow any aesthetic or formal theme, but a human connection: they all were produced by his close circle of artist friends and collaborators.
Hoping off the bus from Philadelphia in 1997, Sweeney settled in downtown New York to be an artist and benefit from the city’s pollinating and stimulating creative climate. He quickly made friends that would influence him as an artist, and enrich him as a human – two sides of the same coin.
Here is a quick timeline of how Sweeney assembled this unique community.
During his early New York years, Sweeney used to go to Printed Matter on Wooster Street, where he first met Lizzie Bougatsos (who was then working there), and her friend, Brian DeGraw. Right down the street was one of the most interesting art galleries of that time, America Fine Arts (AFA), owned by Colin de Land. At AFA, he met Pieter Schoolwerth, Sadie Laska, and Danny McDonald around 1997-1999. They were all artists represented by, or former employees of, that gallery. De Land's wife was the iconic art dealer Pat Hearn. It was at her gallery that Elizabeth Peyton and Sweeney met, during a music performance de Land and Sweeney had collaborated on. At that point, Peyton asked Sweeney if he would sit for a portrait which would in time be followed by many others (one of which is included in the exhibition).
The legendary downtown enfant terrible Dash Snow introduced Sweeney to his then wife, Agathe Snow. Their love of art probably sealed their friendship forever. Besides, Sweeney formed the art-rock band Actress with Lizzie Bougatsos and Sadie Laska. It was during one of Actress’s performance at Greene Naftali in the late 1990s that he met Jacqueline Humphries. In the early 2000s, Gavin Brown Enterprise (GBE) started showing Spencer Sweeney’s works. It was around that time (the early 2000s) that he met Peter Doig, Rirkrit Tiravanija and Verne Dawson who were also represented by GBE. Doig painted a fantastic mural in Sweeney’s nightclub - Santos. In 2003, Sweeney had his first show at GBE, and met Urs Fisher who had the following exhibition. Today Fischer and Sweeney host a weekly party on Market Street.
This circle of friends and collaborators is still open and active. For example, he met Cy Gavin through Lia Gangitano, founder of Participant Inc, five years ago. About a year ago, while walking through art openings, he met Gerasimos Floratos and Marcus Jahmal. Sweeney got to know Kokakrit Arunanondchai during the young artist’s thesis show at Columbia. He asked the young artist to do some work for Santos.
Through these artworks, we can relive the making of one of the most creative communities of New York of the last two decades. Interestingly, the human and the aesthetic component are neither significantly different nor disconnected, they actually coincide: they are tied together by the emotional journey led by Sweeney, which shines through the myriad of artists' characters and art forms. Understanding this art exhibition is like deciphering the family ties in a village, which is New York City.