The Jack Hanley Gallery, San Francisco, is pleased to present The Innocent Gaze, a group exhibition featuring artists Hisham Bharoocha, Leslie Shows, Chris Sollars, Erika Somogyi, Ted Riederer and Edmund Wyss and curated by Dina Pugh. The Innocent Gaze examines various ways in which artists are addressing disaster, war, and tragedy by assembling/deassembling information and ephemera from the media. Using art to understand, cope with or connect to disturbing current events, these disparate artists choose to respond with varied aesthetics from the sublime to the fetishized.
In the 2001 article “Welcome to the Desert of the Real” Slavoj Zizek discusses the “innocent gaze” as the current American viewpoint due to our physical and emotional distance from wars waging abroad. The artists in this exhibition represent or critique their own removed position and ultimately reveal the difficult task of attempting to respond to events beyond our full comprehension. While the media is looked to as a source of information, it also shelters us from the harshest of realities. These artists confront difficult, political subjects by sourcing media images and thus flipping the media‚s intermediary gaze to create a personal connection. Many of the images on display are highly aesthetisized, often sublime and nearly void of recognizable political content. On one hand this can be perceived as a sign of escapism, on the other it calls attention to the distance that still exists between our sheltered viewpoint and “the real”.
Hisham Bharoocha, Erika Somogyi and Leslie Shows disassemble images from the media and reassemble them through collaging and painting. Ted Riederer‚s art practice revolves largely around his use of music as a political tool, a coping mechanism and a means of connection with others. Edmund Wyss juxtaposes immaculately rendered photorealistic paintings of outmoded cameras and toy-like war weapons ˆ often indiscernible from one another. Chris Sollars uses a more didactic approach than the other artists in the exhibition, prodding his audience to question the relevance of art in the political arena.