September 28 - December 1, 2017
Opening Reception: September 28th, 6-8pm
Likeness is an exhibition of busts – aka human heads and upper torsos – which complicate traditional notions of portraiture by acting as palimpsests for various identities. Although the form of the bust is unmistakable, particular likenesses are abstracted, contorted or omitted entirely. The works in this exhibition refer to classical busts or portraits, but are functionally closer to prehistoric modes of figuration, depicting groups or classes as opposed to specific individuals.
Anonymity is an anomaly in an era of selfies, avatars and facial recognition software. Heads and faces are documented, catalogued and broadcast at speed, enhancing our own predisposition to recognize faces, anthropomorphize everyday objects, and express ourselves through emojis. In an increasingly narcissistic culture, it’s refreshing to see busts, an atavistic form, as vehicles for humanistic ideas.
Amy Bessone, Vidya Gastaldon, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Maren Karlson, Lucy Kim, José Lerma, Jean-Luc Moulène, Woody De Othello, Christina Ramberg, Lui Shtini
- Amy Bessone (b. 1970, New York, NY). Her ceramic torsos of women are charged in their duality, performing as both monuments to the female form and critiques of objectification.
- Vidya Gastaldon (b. 1974, Besançon, France) paints disembodied busts of divine beings, more Redon than Rodin, their eyes permeating through layers of semi-opaque, ethereal paint.
- Trenton Doyle Hancock (b. 1974, Oklahoma City, OK). His works – ostensibly self-portraits – blend sci-fi, horror, and grotesque caricature into a complex, dreamlike narrative which extends well beyond autobiography.
- Maren Karlson (b. 1988, Rostock, Germany). Her psychedelic paintings depict realms devoid of men, inhabited entirely by female witches, spirits and ghouls.
- Lucy Kim (b. 1978, Seoul, Korea) complicates traditional portraiture by creating molds of the physique of different professionals, such as a geneticist and plastic surgeon. Their forms are stretched, warped, and flattened into wall relief, a liminal space between painting and sculpture.
- José Lerma (b. 1971, Seville, Spain) makes “portraits” of historical bankers and politicians that are completely abstracted into globs of acrylic paint and caulk, serving as anti-monuments to famous capitalists.
- Jean-Luc Moulène (b. 1955, Reims, France) creates tronches or “heads” resemble crude antiquities but are actually derived from artifacts of pop culture; in this case, a bloated head of comic villain Dr. Doom cast in concrete from a Halloween mask.
- Woody De Othello (b. 1991, Miami, FL). His ceramics anthropomorphize everyday objects and isolated body parts into strange, humorous character studies.
- Christina Ramberg (b. 1946, Ft. Campbell, KY). Her historically rich sketchbook drawings depict women’s heads enveloped in tightly wound braids or torsos bound in corsets.
- Lui Shtini (b. 1978, Kavaje, Albania) makes mysterious paintings that read like classical court portraiture, if Rococo hair had swarmed the sitter’s face and dissolved facial features into geometric chins, collars and coiffure.
Curious and Curiouser
May 25 - September 8, 2017
Opening Reception: May 25th, 6-8pm
Fused Space is pleased to present “Curious and Curiouser,” a three-person exhibition featuring oil paintings by Courtney Johnson, glass and steel sculptures by Julie Béna, and tapestries woven from gold lamé and embellished with found materials by Josh Faught. Using everyday life and popular culture as points of departure, these artists fold fact into fiction, constructing imaginary worlds that are simultaneously familiar and alien. Why did Alice in Wonderland cry “Curiouser and Curiouser!”? Because “she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English.” Béna, Faught, and Johnson understand the good grammar of their various mediums, but subvert it self-consciously to explore the language, theater and narrative forms of altered realities.
Julie Béna’s work oscillates between performance, installation and theater. Destiny, a sculpture consisting of two glass panels joined together by three brushed steel columns, acts as a translucent room divider. An illuminated cone sits atop the center column, evoking both indoor and outdoor lamps. Seven black letters float randomly, spelling various words such as “edit,” “nest,” “send,” “sin,” “dine,” “deity,” “density,” “yeti” and, of course, the work’s title “destiny.” The effect is one in which the words seem to roam the room, eluding singularity and retaining mystery. Destiny, like Béna’s other sculptures, is reminiscent of a prop; it transforms its environment, placing the viewer on a stage activating a hundred imaginary scenarios.
Fusing personal and collective histories, Josh Faught’s methodically composed fiber wall works investigate language, constructions of identity, and networks of support. Between a Rock and a Hard Place is a diptych in which the right panel is a Jacquard-woven image of a brick wall while the left panel combines hand-woven texts appropriated from the 1980’s Gay Areas Directory. The panels are united visually by their strong horizontal linearity and conceptually by their similar relationship to demarcating boundaries and protecting community. Index headings such as adult bookstores, counseling feminist, and opera education become a humorous portrait of a historical community. On the right, at the center of the brick wall, a bit of mortar is missing, exposing a peephole and potential escape into another world.
Courtney Johnson’s paintings investigate the emotional resonances between colors, the illusion of plasticity that creates the fantasy of familiar forms while warping, exaggerating and hyperbolizing them into strangeness. Empirical Somethings, for example, depicts a mountain landscape turned on its side to construct a wobbly staircase to a destination we cannot see. Billowy folds of yellow, turquoise and apricot swell across the canvas, like smoke or marble, while a pearl-white face, nearly hidden or camouflaged, is carved directly into the stone landscape in the foreground. In the grouping of works for “Curious and Curiouser,” Johnson has continued her retreat to alien and dizzying places, drawing inspiration from popular films such as Michael Powell’s psychological drama Black Narcissus (1947), as well as Ursula LeGuin’s science fiction novel, Planet of Exile (1966).
Julie Béna (b.1982, Paris, France) studied at the Villa Arson in Nice and attended the Gerrit Rietveid Academie at Amsterdam. In 2012-13, she was part of le Pavillon, the research laboratory of le Palais de Tokyo. Her recent solo exhibitions include, “L’Eternelle Insatisfaite,” (Syntax, Lisbon, 2016); “Nail Tang,” Galerie Joseph Tang (2015); “How to ask better questions?,” Artopia, (Milan); “Destiny,” Galerie Edouard Manet, (Gennevilliers, France, 2015). She performed at Kadist Foundation, (San Francisco, 2015); Fahrenheit, (Los Angeles, 2014); Palais de Tokyo, (Paris, 2014); and at PERFORMA 13, (New York, 2013).
Josh Faught (b. 1979, St. Louis, MO) received his MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Recent solo museum exhibitions include a site-specific installation at the Neptune Society Columbarium as part of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art SECA Art Award Exhibition (2013), the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, (2013), and the Seattle Art Museum in conjunction with his Betty Bowen Award (2009). His work is included in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art as well as the Rubell Family Collection. Faught lives and works in San Francisco, where he is an Associate Professor at the California College of Arts.
Courtney Johnson (b. 1981, Roanoke, VA) received her MFA from California College of the Arts in 2011. Recent exhibitions include CTRL + SHIFT (Oakland, CA), Alter Space (San Francisco, CA), 2nd Floor Projects (San Francisco, CA), and Royal Nonesuch Gallery (Oakland, CA). Johnson lives and works in San Francisco, CA.