The final seconds tick away. The sunlight beckons through the window. The bell rings. It’s the same high-pitched bell that has been blaring out all year. This time though, it provides sweet music – a coda to the year. SCHOOL’S OUT! Time for sleeping in, staying up late, and doing anything you want in between. We all remember those youthful summer months, when anything seemed possible and rules were few and far between. Mike Weiss Gallery’s summer group exhibition aims to capture that same sense of freedom – of playfully breaking from the ordinary and letting the imagination run wild. The show will include works by Deborah Brown, Thrush Holmes, Jerry Kearns, and Liao Yibai.
Deborah Brown’s oil paintings conflate the foreign and familiar, recontextualizing recognizable imagery – from mythology, art history, and literature – into the artist’s own expressionistic landscapes. In these works, the figures are blatantly Picasso-esque, yet displaced in Brown’s canvases, they take on an unexpected element of whimsy and anthropomorphism. Brown’s process liberates her figures from the stagnating weight of history, allowing them to function freely across a broad spectrum of ideas and emotions.
Jerry Kearns’ multilayered “psychological pop” painting presents a panoramic view of modern culture with a very specific set of images. While the work seems ripe for a narrative interpretation, it is difficult to pinpoint if any relationships actually exist between each element. There is something disconcerting and dangerous about the Kearns’ entropic amalgam of characters – one in which square double-cheeseburgers, a levitating gun, and toucans play as prominent a role as the bikini-clad women and a joker-headed bodybuilder.
Liao Yibai’s intricately hand-welded stainless steel sculptures focus on the tangled social, political, and cultural state of modern-day China. Straddling a line between flippancy and seriousness, the dynamic figures each merge the insider's and outsider's view — pandas and dragons tie together the artist's own experience growing up in China and, at the same time, play with the Western (mis)conceptions of China he has experienced while living in the United States.
Thrush Holmes’ scrawled paintings present a cheeky revision on the tradition of landscape painting. In neon and oil stick, each work contains the rudimentary elements of landscape – foreground, background, and horizon. However, beyond their compositional adherence to the academic, Holmes’ works are class trouble-makers – irreverent in their lurid palette and shimmering neon fixtures, as well as in the Warholian seriality of their installation.