Lora Reynolds is pleased to announce High Writer, a project-room exhibition of new drawings and paintings by Frank Selby in his second show at the gallery.
Selby draws and paints from collages he makes, in which he conspicuously combines pairs of photographs or film stills. Recently he has been adapting images from movies and history books, focusing on the middle of the 20th century.
Previously, Selby has drawn specific historical events—often riots or wartime conflicts—to explore miscommunications and misinterpretations. He points at the messy networks of reasons people say and do things and the messy filter through which other people interpret those behaviors. And photojournalism—the primary way over the last century these actions and reactions have been shared with remote third parties—introduces additional layers of unreliability in communication. Philosophers since Plato and Aristotle have wrestled with the problematic relationship between images and the physical world. Selby agrees images continue to provide an infinite potential for misunderstanding.
Although Selby’s ideas remain consistent in the new work, his source material is evolving. Instead of drawing overtly political events from the past, he is pulling from classic films, modernist architecture, domestic products, and jewelry design. Selby envisions each of the objects in his drawings and paintings as a “communicative act.” A diamond-encrusted broach was made a certain way for a kaleidoscope of reasons: the political and economic climate of the day, but also fashion, technology, popular culture, and an infinite array of other considerations, most lost in the passage of time and impossible to trace. (The same holds true for Resnais’s 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amour or the Johnson Wax Headquarters by Frank Lloyd Wright.) Selby is not just drawing things, he is exploring vast matrices of information, mostly unknowable.
To reiterate, Selby’s primary interest is in the impossibility of reliably and exhaustively absorbing the significance of an image. His intent while drawing, curiously, leads to a physical manifestation of this idea. After collaging source images together, Selby sets out to make a perfect reproduction of his maquette, down to the exact pattern of film grain in the images he is copying. Selby knows this is an impossible task. Although he is a skilled draftsman, he is still drawing by hand. Differences will always exist (if only subtle) between the source and the finished work—just as a photograph (much less a drawing of a photograph) will never be able to capture every nuance of the reality it depicts.
At the heart of Selby’s argument that information is infinitely fluid and elusive is his belief in the interconnectivity—the oneness—of objects, events, ideas, and people. In a world where ideas originating in all corners of the globe inform and influence each other via an instantaneous wireless connection, the supposed binaries Selby’s drawings often recall (e.g., capitalism/communism, digital/analog, war/peace, art/life) might actually bear more similarities than differences.
Frank Selby was born in 1975 and lives and works in North Carolina. Selby has had solo exhibitions at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (North Carolina) and the Waterworks Visual Arts Center (North Carolina). He has participated in group shows at institutions including the Drawing Center (New York), FLAG Art Foundation (New York), and VOORKAMER (Belgium). His work is included in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York), Weatherspoon Art Museum (North Carolina), Lodeveans Collection (London), Anderson Collection (California), Hiscox Collection (London), and Blanton Museum of Art (Austin).