Roman Fine Art is pleased to announce the opening of Safe Houses, an exhibition of new artwork by Gentleman’s game, a collaboration of artists Brandon Friend and Jason Douglas Griffin. Safe Houses will open with a reception for the artists Friday, March 24, 6-8pm.
Friend and Griffin, collectively working as Gentleman's Game since 2011, explore recurring themes of mythology, technology, history and mortality as viewed through the murky waters of their mythological realm, The Atlantic. The Atlantic is the vast ocean that covers nearly the entire surface of Gentleman’s Game’s Fantastic Planet, a vision of our own possible dystopian future. Safe Houses boasts the most complete selection of paintings from their Atlantic storyline displayed to date. In this show, Gentleman's Game will debut a new collection of previously un-exhibited works, their latest addition to this epic saga.
In this striking world imagined by Gentleman's Game, tenacious survival instinct and ingenuity give rise to incredible, fragmented and towering cities referencing shanty towns cobbled together with raw materials and strange alchemy. Cities built to exist upon the trees, upon the skeletons of long decaying oil rigs and the very few mountaintops able to break the surface of the great, never-ending ocean. The constant struggle for resources and land lead to a proliferation of fantastical modes of transport. Alchemists, utilizing technologies and magics both old and new, create vessels to fill the sea and air, allowing their clans to fight and maybe survive as new Gods watch over their subjects with cool disregard. Among the chaos and despair, the artists still manage to create images of hope. Glimmers of this world's fragile beauty can be spotted throughout the relentless turmoil.
In their latest works, Safe Houses, Friend and Griffin depict a refuge in larger than life trees, lending themselves to colonization for those with the means and perseverance seeking higher ground. Tree houses are often whimsical and magical in their creation, a makeshift adaptation of their site-specific nature, and these works feel just the same. Set in the context of an implied undying struggle for survival, the nostalgic and lightheartedness of tree houses turn to a more serious and cerebral tone.
By presenting a combination of mark making methods and employing referential material, such as photographic media and cutouts, the viewer is compelled to reflect their everyday experience into the works. Specific elements lure the viewer in while representational elements drift in and out of layers of abstraction. The viewer is challenged to circle the painting from near and far, discovering new visual relationships with each scan of the artwork. Their partnership is considered unique, but it is their signature technique for bridging the gap between the digital and the handmade that is unlike any other. Both artists work together to create works by combining mixed media in a process that employs various methodologies rooted in painting, printmaking, collage, drawing and image transfer. Images, textures and handmade marks are often scanned, printed and then transferred to the canvas or paper surface using a fixative. The transfer process is facilitated through the application and removal of numerous layers of paper medium allowing different effects begin to develop and variations are created within the moment. Though technology is integral to their process, it is ultimately the artist's hand that is responsible for the final creative decisions.
Brandon Friend was born in 1980 in Queens, New York, Jason Douglas Griffin was born in 1981 in the DC Metro area. Both were enrolled in the Department of Art Honors Program at the University of Maryland College Park when they first met in 2001. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Friend returned to Queens to complete his MFA at CUNY Queens College, Griffin moved to New York City to pursue his art career. Friend and Griffin later reconnected in New York in 2008 and began sharing the same studio space in Long Island City that they continue to use today. Their first joint effort was for an exhibition at Lambert Fine Art located in New York's Lower East Side, in 2011. The exhibit tiled, Identity crisis, provided the impetus to create work as a pair, propelling the artists to create an entire wall of collaborations. The name Gentleman's Game came from a painting that the duo created depicting two figures engaged a game of a chess, which served as a metaphor for their creative process.
Gentleman's Game has hundreds of works in private collections around the US and Internationally. Their work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and art fairs including Scope Basel, Texas Contemporary, Project Gallery, LA, 19 Karen Gallery, Australia, Octavia Gallery, New Orleans, Ogden Museum, New Orleans, Vered Gallery, East Hampton, Scope NY and Fountain Art Fair in New York and Chicago. This is Gentleman's Game's second solo exhibition with Roman Fine Art.