André Butzer’s second New York show at Metro Pictures “Nicht fürchten! Don´t be scared!” features a group of new, closely related works that focus on the “formal event” of painting. By emphasizing shapes and fields of color, these works possess a less linear take on the usual motifs in his work—colorful hybrids of abstraction and cartoon figuration featuring a family of characters inspired by art history, comics, politics and animation. Both sinister and amusing, these elegant compositions balance large, vaguely recognizable biomorphic forms within chaotic, multicolored backgrounds or heavily textured monochromatic fields.
“Blue Smurf” presents the most identifiable image in the exhibition with the cartoon character embedded in a complex field of thick paint—the Smurf’s wry smile acknowledges his victory over abstraction. In the reductive “Entombment of Winnie the Pooh” a Pooh-yellow blob is taken to his grave in the night; a sacrificial pop martyr intended to unite art history. “Favorite Painting of Paul Cezanne” and “Aladdin and the Magic Oil Lamp” balance Butzer’s use of maximal, colorful abstraction and a newfound spatiality to celebrate the Post-Impressionist master and to “have something truly colorful and tender like a big Disney movie”, respectively.
The title of the exhibition is taken from a progression of three paintings by the same name. In the first, a thickly painted flesh colored kite shape (a fish? a piece of meat?) emerges from a web of bright, gestural painting. The second follows the same format with an enormous black spider shape prominently taking over the canvas. Finally, in the third, the black color has power over the whole canvas, over-painting the thick shapes and colors in evidence underneath.
André Butzer was born in 1973 in Stuttgart, Germany and lives and works in Rangsdorf. He has exhibited widely in galleries in Europe, Japan and the United States. A survey show (with catalogue) of his work was held at the Kunsthalle Nürnberg in 2009.
Metro Pictures Gallery
In the exhibition “Midnight Matinee,” Gary Simmons uses images of drive-in theater marquees and infamous houses from vintage horror films to reflect on ghosts and abandoned pasts. Simmons has long referenced film, architecture and American popular culture in works that address personal and collective memories of race and class.
The films Amityville Horror, Burnt Offerings, Psycho and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre all have houses that figure prominently, often actively, in the plot. No less haunted are the forsaken drive-in theatres, their elaborate signs and marquees totems to their lost vitality. Combined, the images of architecture and the cinema naturally lend themselves to the movement inherent in Simmons’ drawings and paintings. “Split Personality” is a large wall drawing (scaled to the proportions of a movie screen) that uses an image of the notorious Psycho house split horizontally and inverted as if flickering between frames. The multi-panel drawings create the illusion of movement in their vertical filmstrip format with images repositioned as in stop-motion animation.
Simmons’ distinctive “erasure” technique has been central to his work since the early 1990’s. In their earliest incarnations, Simmons composed compositions in white chalk on readymade chalkboards or directly onto slate-painted walls that he partially expunges and erases by smudging the images with his hands. In recent years, Simmons has adapted the process to canvas using pigment, oil paint and cold wax. Using a black on black palette for the first time, Simmons’ new works amplify the refinement of his technique with subtly textured backgrounds and images drawn and smeared in lush oil paint.
Gary Simmons has been included in exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Bohen Foundation, New York; the Whitney, New York; the Studio Museum of Harlem, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the St. Louis Art Museum and the Kunsthaus Zürich. He has had work recently commissioned for both the New York Presbyterian Hospital and the Dallas Cowboys stadium. His work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Rubell Family Collection, Miami; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Whitney, New York.
Metro Pictures Gallery