Art Brussels 2017
Eric Yahnker

Eric Yahnker

Alternative Fiction

April 20th – April 23rd, 2017


Art Brussels 2017 | Booth D 24

Avenue du Port 86c, 1000 Brussels, Belgium


VIP Preview: Thursday, April 20th from 11am – 5pm

Opening Vernissage: Thursday, April 20th from 5pm – 10pm

Fair Hours: 11am – 7pm


Eric Yahnker presents a mini solo show for our Art Brussels 2017 booth entitled Alternative Fiction. Taking its title from a ghoulish Trump spokeswoman’s phrase “alternative facts” to describe lies, this show looks at the dark turn American culture has taken since the 2016 presidential election. Needless to say, the results are angry and upsetting, but in the hands of Yahnker also humorous and even hopeful. A master drawer with graphite and colored pencil, Yahnker here takes on a new medium: oil pastel. Working on archival sandpaper, Yahnker found that the tooth of the sandpaper holds lots of layers of pigment, but also destroyed his fingers, raw and bloody after hours of blending. Pastels may be a traditionally hobbyist medium, however some historical masters of the medium inspired Yahnker for this series, like Edgar Degas or Mary Cassatt, while 40s pin-up pastel art was also cited as an influence.

Though fully accessible and enjoyable, Yahnker’s highly detailed work is layered with sociopolitical concepts and semiotic puns that respond to longer consideration to reveal many interpretations. Here we see Marvin Gaye’s influential question “what’s going on?” translated in 2017 to a bitter and fed-up “fuck this shit.” JD Salinger’s American bildungsroman Catcher in the Rye reads “GRAB HER by the PUSSY”; and the cat smoking a pipe is, in this realm of alternative fiction, “not a cat smoking a pipe.” Yahnker, a huge fan of both artists, updates the famous Bas Jan Ader work with a drawing of George Michael, and the instant gratification of opens up to reveal the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa by Bernini. In Yahnker’s words:

In conceiving Alternative Fiction, I wanted to create a mini-universe of images that expressed the pervasive post-Trump-election malaise of the current American progressive. Directly using some of the iconography of protest past (i.e. protest buttons, Marvin Gaye’s era-defining “What’s Going On” LP), as well as channeling some of the gravitas of art history (i.e. Bas Jan Ader, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Rene Magritte), my aim was to tell a story of temporary stasis and powerlessness bordering on the pathetic. I wanted to depict a strained and curdled state for the traditionally proud liberal American psyche, residing now in the realm of panic, grief, humiliation and helplessness. It currently lacks the punch, grit and laser beam focus of its Vietnam-era predecessors; their once powerfully intoxicating protest art seems to have been replaced by Pinterest-friendly graphics and meme-generating snark. That’s not to say there’s no romance and passion left in liberal politics, it’s just been momentarily towel-snapped into anaphylactic shock.

After studying journalism at USC, Yahnker went on to the CalArts where he received his BFA in animation. He then worked on animation for TV, including Seinfeld, South Park, and MADtv, before switching to a career in the contemporary art world. Since 2008, Yahnker has had solo exhibitions at The Hole in New York, Ambach & Rice and Zevitas Marcus in Los Angeles, Paradise Row in London and Jeanroch Dard in Paris. Recent group exhibitions include Brand New Gallery in Milan, M+B in Los Angeles, the Torrance Art Museum in Torrance, TX and Galerie Ampersand in Cologne. Yahnker’s first museum solo exhibition The Long Goodbye will open at CAM Raleigh in North Carolina later this year.

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Elephant Magazine, “What to See at Art Brussels”

Sleek Mag, “The Best of Art Brussels”

Interview Magazine, “10 Picks from Art Brussels 2017”

The New York Times, “Brussels Shines a Spotlight on the Value of Regional Art Fairs”

Juxtapoz, “Eric Yahnker’s Alternativ Fiction”

Unrated, “Alternative Fiction and More: A Look at Artist Eric Yahnker’s Wonderfully Odd Artwork”

The Word Magazine, “25 Standout Booths at Art Brussels”

Arrested Motion, “Previews: Eric Yahnker – “Alternative Fiction” @ The Hole (Art Brussels)”

Art Research Map, “Top 20 Booths at Art Brussels 2017”

Faz Magazine, “Wenn Die Kunst Für Sich Spricht”

DARE Magazine, “Neues Entdecken, Bewährtes Wiederentdecken”

Kunst Markt, “Marktberichte”

It’s Nice That, “Alternative Fiction: Artist Eric Yahnker Satirises Trump’s Presidency”

Booooooom!, “‘Alternative Fiction’ by Artist Eric Yahnker”