Early Man

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, The Hole NYC

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, The Hole NYC

EARLY MAN

November 13 – December 28th, 2014
OPENING: Thursday, November 13th from 6-9PM

The Hole is proud to present a group exhibition Early Man at the gallery opening this Thursday, November 13th. Taking early art making (as in Upper Paleolithic) as a jumping off point, artists in this show use various strategies to create meaning, from the barely rudimentary to the highly sophisticated.

The first artworks made by humans exist in a context-less void, where artistic intention is indeterminate; they are rich for speculation, perplexing and tantalizing. To early art experts, even, interpretation is baffled as many readings all present themselves as equally valid. Cave paintings could have apotropaic religious intent, they could have narrative or storytelling intent, they could be fanciful and decorative. The earliest figurative sculptures—the various Venuses—are interpreted alternately as religious artifacts, early porn, or the first female self-portraits. Perhaps one of the most interesting interpretations of early art is that the significance was in creating the painting or sculpture and the final work was incidental.

Looking at artworks across chasms of millennia negates all our traditional tools for art analysis and we are drawn most to this elusive “why”. It is ubiquitous for young artists to brood over the question of “why put another painting into the world” and such questions lead ultimately to “what is art for anyway”; a question for which people often look to first art making for an answer. The evolutionary birth of the human impulse to make art seems to be a good place to figure out why we are all super into this.

The accepted story is that art went from being functional craft to being capital-A Art around the Renaissance, so it would be impossible for us to look at prehistoric art properly from our historical vantage point. Symbolic practicality seems to be our cultural knee-jerk; but is “art for art’s sake” so impossible to imagine for Early Man? The patterns of petroglyphs and pictograms seem to prove the pleasure of iteration early on. The accomplishment of verisimilitude in 30,000-year-old animal paintings in Chauvet or Lascaux seems to evince the simple enjoyment of rendering accurately.

Other than real-world early art impulses, the stock character of the Cave Man holds a lot of appeal for young artists; the idea that art was urgent, crucial, important enough to make time for during a strenuous day of hunting or running from mammoths or whatever. Maybe artists are interested in the idea of a cultivated ignorance or the appearance of uncivilized behavior; maybe artists also like the fantasy that their work will be something generations will puzzle over in the future, or are just into the idea of being willfully confusing, their intentions unexplained, the way a 23,000 year old Baton de Commandement could be a spear thrower or a midwife calendar or a dress fastener or an arrow straightener.

I think I was originally drawn to making a thematic show around these ideas after seeing a lot of aggressive, raw and rugged painting over the past year, made even with the artist’s hands, really getting in there and seeking what you could call gymnastic authenticity. I saw these paintings as like literally wrestling meaningfulness and cramming it into an artwork.

But since then and as this show came together I have been more drawn to the pre-symbolic and the obtuse, creating a work that can hover outside of time and interpretation, that deflects the exhausted and exhausting pathways of looking at art that bore the shit out of me sometimes. Drawing on the tradition of Modernity and all its offshoots sometimes feels tail-chasey; Primitivism is patronizing; what about just getting down with artworks made by the first humans?

Artists included: Aurel SchmidtAustin Lee, Barry McGee, Bjarne MelgaardBruce High Quality FoundationChristian RosaDavid PappacenoDavid ShrigleyDennis HoekstraDevin Troy StrotherEric YahnkerFrancine SpiegelGiovanni Garcia-FenechJim DrainJIM JOE, Katherine BernhardtMisaki KawaiPaul DeMuroTakeshi Murata, Theo Rosenblum *and special guests* :0

Email krysta@theholenyc.com for more information

image: Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches 

cover image: Bjarne Melgaard, oil on canvas, 51 x 40 inches 

Takeshi Murata

Takeshi Murata, “Monster Movie (with music by Plate Tectonics), 2005, single channel video with audio, 4 min loop

Scott Reeder

Scott Reeder, “Untitled”, 2013, acrylic on canvas, rubber hamburger, 39.5 x 30 inches, 100 x 76 cm

David Shrigley

David Shrigley, “Untitled (Being Indoors), 2012, ink on paper, 11.5 x 8 inches, 30 x 21 cm

David Shrigley

David Shrigley, “Untitled (You Must Accept It), 2014, ink on paper, 11.5 x 8 inches, 30 x 21 cm

David Shrigley

David Shrigley, “Untitled (cut off…), 2013, ink on paper, 18.5 x 14 inches, 47.5 x 35.9 cm

Paul DeMuro

Paul DeMuro, “Untitled”, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 49.5 x 50 inches, 125.5 x 127 cm

Misaki Kawai

Misaki Kawai, “Cave Man Island”, 2014, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80 inches, 152 x 203 cm

Katherine Bernhardt

Katherine Bernhardt, “Mr. Coffee & Pizza, 2014, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches, 121.5 x 91 cm

JIM JOE

JIM JOE, “River Scene”, 2014, oil stick on canvas, 60 x 42 inches, 152 x 106.5 cm

JIM JOE

JIM JOE, ” Freedom Scene”, 2014, oil stick on canvas, 60 x 42 inches, 152 x 106.5

Jim Drain

Jim Drain, “Big Boy”, 2005, beads, fabric, string, mixed media, 69 x 24 x 24 inches, 175 x 61 x 61 cm

Jim Drain

Jim Drain, “Untitled”, 2005, beads, fabric, string, mixed media, 80 x 52 x 32 inches, 203 x 132 x 83 cm

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, “Self-Portrait”, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 122 x 122 cm

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, “Self-Portrait”, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 122 x 122 cm

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech

Giovanni Garcia-Fenech, “Self-Portrait”, 2011, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 122 x 122 cm

FS2

Francine Spiegel, “Lora”, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 27 inches, 91.5 x 69 cm

Francine Spiegel

Francine Spiegel, “Trish, Pink Hat”, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 27 x 20 inches, 68.5 x 51 cm

Eric Yahnker

Eric Yahnker, “National Geographic”, 2014, graphite and colored pencil on paper, 41 x 53 inches, 104 x 134.5 cm

David Pappaceno

David Pappaceno, “Thunder Gulch”, 2013, idol: painted plaster, silicone base: resin, 16 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches, 40.5 x 21.5 x 21.5 cm

David Pappaceno

David Pappaceno, “Maura”, 2012, idol: painted resin, base: gift wood, 13 x 9.5 9.5 inches, 33 x 24 x 24 cm

David Pappaceno

David Pappaceno, “Danbury”, 2012, idokl: painted resin, shoe polish, base: gift wood, 13 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches, 33 x 19 x 19 cm

David Pappaceno

David Pappaceno, “Astrophilite”, 2014, idol: resin, base: glass tiles and silicone over plywood, 12 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches, 31 x 19 x 19 cm

Devin Strother

Devin Strother, “Twerk #12”, 2013, acrylic, gessoed paper, gouache, and oil stick on canvas, 11 x 16 x 1.5 inches, 27.5 x 40.5 x 4 cm

Devin Strother

Devin Strother, “Twerk #1”, 2013, acrylic, gessoed paper, gouache, and oil stick on canvas, 16 x 20 x 1.5 inches, 40.5 x 50.8 4 cm

Devin Strother

Devin Strother, “Twerk #8”, 2013, acrylic, gessoed paper, gouache and oil stick on canvas, 20.5 x 34 x 1.5 inches, 52 x 86 x 4 cm

Bjarne Melgaard

Bjarne Melgaard, “Untitled (The End), 2014, oil on canvas board, 18 x 14 x 1 inches, 45.5 x 35.5 x 2.5 cm

Bjarne Melgaard

Bjarne Melgaard, “Untitled (The End)”, 2014, oil on canvas board, 20 x 16 x 1 inches, 50.5 x 40.5 x 2.5 cm

Bjarne Melgaard

Bjarne Melgaard, “Untitiled”, 2014, oil on canvas board, 20 x 16 x 1 inches, 50.5 x 40.5 x 2.5 cm

Bruce High Quality Foundation

Bruce High Quality Foundation, “Bernie, 2014, digital inkjet print on canvas with mixed media, 74.5 x 54.5 2.5, 189 x 138 x 7 cm

Bruce High Quality Foundation

Bruce High Quality Foundation, “The Greek and Roman Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art: 2001.433, Mid 2nd-1st century B.C.E. – 2014 C.E., play doh on steel, 76 x 32 x 27 inches, 193 x 81 68.5 cm

Barry McGee

Barry McGee, “Untitled (tagger)”, 2014, carved wood sculpture, plinth, mechanical parts, spray paint, sculpture: 25 x 13 x 6 inches, plinth: 18 x 17 x 7 inches

Barry McGee

Barry McGee, “Untitled (tagger), 2014, carved wood sculpture, plinth, mechanical parts, spray paint, sculpture: 27 x 10 x 9 inches, plinth: 32 x 7 x 9 inches

Aurel Schmidt

Aurel Schmidt, “Drug Voodoo 21 (Heidi)” 2014, pencil, colored pencil, wig hair, human hair, Advil Migraine Liquidgels and pills on paper, 15 x 12 inches artwork, 17 x 14 inches framed

Austin Lee

Austin Lee, “Singer”, 2014, flashe acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 inches, 121.5 x 121.5 cm