Title: Color Consciousness
Venue: Torrance Art Museum
Dates: June 15th – August 10th 2013
Artists in exhibition: John Baldessari, Ingrid Calame, Nicolas Grenier, Lisa Jevbratt, Mike Kelley, Jay Lizo, John Mills, Gina Osterloh, Ben Pruskin, Colin Roberts
The idea for this exhibition started with a halfhearted joke I made to a director of a well-known art gallery, when I proposed an exhibition of Ingrid Calame’s and Mike Kelley’s work. I’ve worked for both artists at different times and saw underlying themes of color and memory that connected their work. Needless to say, this exhibition proposal failed to crystallize and the more I fantasized about this exhibition, the more it grew to include other artists from various generations.
Color Consciousness explores how artists use color in relation to the human psyche. The culmination of this exhibition is diverse and layered. With some of the artists, the connection to human psyche is brought toward the foreground, one might say. With others, it is layered underneath forms. David Batchelor argues in his book Chromophobia that, “Color is thus connected to the body in at least two ways: it is applied to the body as make-up, and it is allied with the body in its resistance to verbalization.” The artists in this show all seem to echo this idea, working somewhere in between fantasy, memory, science, and psychology. There have been times during a studio visit where someone would ask, “Why did you choose this particular color?” and usually the answer is mundane or unsatisfying. Despite the outcome, this is what drives the curiosity into remixing color and body relationship into something new. Color is the underlying link between all the artists and this exhibition represents our unique ideological approaches.
Most of the artists in the exhibition use color in relation to the human figure. Ingrid Calame and John Mills use abstraction as their methodology. Ingrid Calame’s Primsacolor stain drawings are traces of human post-industrial residue. John Mills iconographic paintings resemble marks of a prehistoric language for the digital age. Lisa Jevbratt’s colorful prints are created by a software she designed called Zoomorph BTW which simulates the vision of animals. John Baldessari, Nicolas Grenier, and Gina Osterloh use storytelling as their approach. John Baldessari’s video is a confessional documentary relating color to psyche. Nicolas Grenier’s meticulous text paintings fuse color to a social political agenda. Gina Osterloh’s mysterious Press and Erase photographic series describe a moment of magic and absurdity. Ben Pruskin and I take a cumulative approach by installing objects in groups. I make colorful paintings of people I consider heroes singing while Ben Pruskin makes jewel-like busts of friends, displaying them in clusters on foam blocks. Mike Kelley and Colin Roberts use stand-ins for human presence.Colin Roberts’ obsessive glass pillows and bubblewrap sculptures seem to personify the human presence in their forms.. Lastly, Mike Kelley’s self portrait drawing is a humorous gift. The drawing was a joke of a memory that I had of Mike Kelley giving a talk in a pink suit. This humor in Mike Kelley’s work is how I like to remember him.
I see this exhibition as a dinner party where eccentric friends have been invited to meet, some for the first time and for others a reunion. I imagine all the guests meeting with all the awkwardness and familiarity at many parties. I imagine the guests “reading between the lines” while learning the personal histories of each other. By the end of the night, the dinner guests have met new characters, learned new stories, and possibly created new relationships. I hope this exhibition can do the same.