Exotic Beta

Evan Gruzis

Exotic Beta

September 10th – October 22nd, 2011

Opening: September 10th, 7-10pm

The Hole is pleased to announce Exotic Beta, the second New York City solo exhibition by Evan Gruzis. The exhibition features ink paintings, sculpture, video and installation, including a collaborative installation with renowned designer Rafael de Cardenas. Exotic Beta is presented in collaboration with True Religion Jeans.

Exotic Beta fuses a sense of the exotic with the language of market research to explore the way meaning is made and the relativity of “taste”: Exotic like a tattoo of a Japanese character the bearer of which doesn’t know the meaning, Beta like a corporation’s second re-launching of a product after market research and focus groups have masticated all the language to the point of flavorlessness.  Exotic Beta also refers to an alternative form of asset class in investment markets—like an art collector who starts buying baseball cards—adding extra relevance to the title.

Evan’s main goal is creating the potential for meaning amidst the post-apocalyptic landscape of empty signs. By using imagery that was once evocative and now is just a husk of a cultural signifier, Evan can foreground his real interest, which is the simple act of looking. His technique certainly suggests this as well.  With methodical and painstaking execution, Gruzis uses a magician’s bag of tricks to keep the ink and paper looking like anything but; the gestalt is a now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t pictoral modification meant to present the images both as authentic representations of the object and as hand-painted images that float between photography, airbrush and digital technology.

The centerpiece of this exhibition is the large triptych in the back of the main gallery, titled Stratatos. Featuring the silhouetted form of a skull, a Fender Stratocaster guitar and a metronome, this contemporary Vanitas presents our forever-teenaged culture’s “rebelliousness” in contemplation of it’s own ticking clock.

The “castle gallery” features light-up works and video: Dancing into Forever is the central video work projected on the back wall of the gallery.  A droning un-programmed digital clock flashes 88:88 and other messages while a silhouetted figure slowly gyrates in front of a water-drenched plane. This next-generation video work uses generative software to randomize intersecting clips of video so it is an ever-changing intersection of visual information, never presenting the exact same image twice, like a live video mix.  A trio of other luminescent pieces, including the light-box work Connoisseurship, which juxtaposes the stereophile and the armchair pharmacologist, round out the dark side of the exhibition.

Back in the main gallery, Self-portrait as Self-portrait’s explosion of paint drips, balloons, cocktail paraphernalia, confetti and plastic fruit are arranged into an image of the artist. The result is a drawing-photo-painting hybrid, a mise en abyme that references Gruzis’s own body of work and creates a territory for image and object to meet. In Geishas of Key West, 2009, a folding fan, ribbons, flowers and an illustration from Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions float atop an illusionistic ink painting of tile to form a concept of beauty straight out of a 1980s hair salon. Aesthetically these canvases call into question issues of taste and process and are absurd pseudo-paintings attempting to divorce the image from a single medium.

Another featured installation in Exotic Beta offers Evan’s “acid sketches”; painstaking recreations of hastily scribbled sketches made during a psychedelic experience. They relate in concept and palette to the work High Design, which frames splatter as the opposite of controlled designed form: acid wash, acid sketch, acid trip.

The selection of paintings continues with 16:9, featuring cinematic display proportions and purposeless graphic design that would be obscured in a 4:3 format “to fit your TV”. Harakolada evokes the pineapple as the international symbol of hospitality and nods to Margaritaville with its pat tropical fantasy, while the tanto blade stabbed through it introduces lethality, beauty and craftsmanship; here is an inappropriate re-appropriation of samurai culture via violence and Zen. As Laurie Anderson asked: que es mas macho? Pineapple o knife?

Many works in this show feature superimposed text, both in painting and sculpture: the chromed, autobodied ANX, the pieces Green and Indigo are everything that color isn’t: text, black and white.  Angst? XANax? Zen? The sculpture, ZEN? (Helvetica, IKB), painted in International Klein Blue, is a distilled koan of challenging legibility, through which we can contemplate the void, the emptiness of “no selection”.

Many of the themes of this exhibition are activated in the collaborative installation with Rafael de Cardenas. This sculpture, inspired by a sequence in the movie Flashdance called “Imagination” (after the Laura Branigan song it features), encapsulates a strange and uniquely 1980s Orientalism.  The film’s dancer devolves from post-apocalyptic geisha to businesswoman to writhing freak-out by strobe, and Gruzis and De Cardenas have grown this moment into a massive frieze consisting of their own custom kimono, presented on a multi-tiered stage that has the presence of a futuristic art deco monument.

Stage install 1 Stage Install 2 Stage Install 3


Alone Again_10

“Alone Again”, 2011, Solubilized watercolor and India ink on Arches Aquarelle paper, mounted and shadowboxed, 28.125 x 40 in


“Harakolada”, 2011, Speedball Superblack ink on Arches Aquarelle paper, mounted and shadowboxed, 58.375 x 38.1875 in

 “Untitled (No.3 Color Version)”, 2011, Solubilized Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle, mounted and shadowboxed, 27.56 x 39.37 in, 70 x 100 cm

“Untitled (No.3 Color Version)”, 2011, Solubilized Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle, mounted and shadowboxed, 27.56 x 39.37 in, 70 x 100 cm

Concurrently with this exhibition, Evan will present a simultaneous solo show of new works at Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery in Chelsea. Entitled Shadow Work, this exhibition features multiple desaturated works on paper, a marble mannequin sculpture entitled Monument to Fashion, and focuses on semi-autobiographical works. Like the Jungian phrase for dealing with the dark parts of your psyche that you don’t even know exist, Shadow Work, circulates images from Evan’s shadow of repressed iconography. ‘Lude Wig for example is a splattered, spectral portrait of the composer Beethoven materializing in front of a palm tree in some sort of tropical astral plane or an afterlife vacation. Bouquet Shift No. 2 re-imagines a Dutch still-life that looks sliced through the middle, bisected and offset by the slash of a sword.  In one of Gruzis’ hallmark still-lifes, Placement de Produit features an unmistakeable Coca-cola bottle with pieces of tape covering the label, referencing a resistance to uncontrollable brand recognition.

Gruzis will also be releasing a new limited-edition book, Existential Crisis, published by Anteism, as well as a limited edition C-print and a silver gelatin print (both derived from the triptych Stratatos), produced by Signed And Numbered, a company specializing in artist-edition collaborations.

Evan Gruzis is a young artist from Milwaukee, WI who has exhibited around the world since graduating from Hunter College in 2008. He has had solo exhibitions at Deitch Projects (2008), DUVE Berlin (2008, 2010), Andreas Melas Presents in Athens (2010) and SAKS Gallery, Geneva (2011).  He has been in group shows at The Swiss Institute, NYC; Max Wigram, London; The Deste Foundation, Athens; The Garage Center for Contemporary Art, Moscow; MACRO Museum, Rome; and many other notable institutions. His work is in the collection of Dakis Joannou, the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Hort Family Collection, Artist Pension Trust, David Zwirner collection, and many other notable private collections.

Gruzis has customized True Religion leather jackets & jeans to make one of a kind wearable artworks that riff on psychedelia, available exclusively in The Hole shop during the exhibition. True Religion Apparel, Inc. is a global American made premium denim brand.  The Company designs, manufactures and markets denim and denim-related sportswear, selling through a diversified network of retail, ecommerce, wholesale and licensing channels worldwide. As of June 30, 2011, the Company owned and operated 102 branded retail stores in the United States, three branded retail stores in Canada, three branded retail stores in Japan, two branded retail stores in Germany, and one branded retail store in the United Kingdom, as well as distribution in luxury department stores and boutiques in 50 countries on six continents.  True Religion, which is headquartered in California was founded in 2002 by Jeffery Lubell, who serves as our Chairman, CEO and Chief Merchant.

For more information: www.truereligionbrandjeans.com

Exotic Beta opens September 10 from 7-10PM and will be on view through October 22nd. The gallery is open Tuesday – Saturday 11-7PM and Thursdays until 10PM. For more information email Laura & Derrick at poke@theholenyc.com