Lawrence Gipe: “The Waiting Room and Other Topics”
At Hespe Gallery
251 Post St #420, San Francisco, CA 94108
Hespe Gallery is pleased to present Lawrence Gipe’s “The Waiting Room and Other Topics” opening Oct 4th, 2013 and continuing until Oct 31. Gipe’s second solo show at Hespe includes oil and mixed-media paintings, drawings and a book collaboration with recent SFAI graduate Sarah Tell.
In this exhibition, Lawrence Gipe derives his paintings and drawings from archival photographic sources from the 1930s to ’60s, creating an ironic paean to the Modern Age, an era of future-focused optimism. Using images of industry, religious sites, and propaganda, Gipe critically elaborates on themes of faith, progress and nostalgia; writer Scott Andrews, in a recent Art Ltd. article, described Gipe’s work: “[as chronicling], through his historic studies, how sentimental depictions of love and home have been aligned with triumphal displays of industrial hypermodernity to lull the viewer into a state of compliance to the message. Almost any of his works can be read simply, but combined with their titles and seen together as a series, a warning ensues.”
The two principal paintings in the exhibition, from the series “In the Valle de Los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen)”, depicts a massive Roman Catholic cathedral near Madrid, Spain that contains the remains of the Fascist dictator Generalissimo Francisco Franco. Ostensibly designed as a site of reconciliation and “atonement” between the two sides of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), the symbolic reputation of Santa Cruz de la Valle de los Caidos is tainted today because Franco used slave labor to build the basilica and the stone cross (which stands at 500-ft – the world’s largest); currently, the site of the church remains a political flashpoint for protests.
Other work in the exhibition includes “The Waiting Room”, a large “livre d’artiste” designed and constructed by San Francisco-based artist Sarah Tell. While wandering in a small Berlin park last summer, Gipe and Tell encountered a faux-18th Century-style building that turned out to be the site of the “Volksgerichthof”, or the Nazi “People’s Court” – where show trials were held during the waning years of World War II. While inside, Tell documented the distinctive (and still functional) waiting area, a dimly-lit enclosure with old wooden benches where victims of the Nazi court sat while awaiting their demise; these chilling images form the basis for the contents of “The Waiting Room”, an “accordion” book that alternates text and images.
Born in Baltimore in 1962, Gipe studied at Virginia Commonwealth University and received his MFA from Otis/Parsons School of Design in 1986. His work is in numerous collections including LACMA, Yale University and the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Gipe has had 50 solo exhibitions in US galleries and museums in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, Munich, Berlin and the Künstverein Düsseldorf. Currently, he is an Associate Professor of Studio Art at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. A monograph about his work, “Lawrence Gipe: Century of Progress”, will be released this winter by Zero+Publishing in Los Angeles. In December, Gipe will organize “Deep, Dark, Truthful Mirror”, a group exhibition of realist painting at Hespe Gallery. Gipe recently received a Confluencenter Grant from the UA for his drawings documenting the passage of illegal immigrants through the federal court system’s Operation Streamline. Articles and reviews about his work have appeared in Vanity Fair, Harper’s Magazine, The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, Art and Antiques, L.A. Weekly, Architectural Digest, Elle, The Los Angeles Times, Talk, ArtForum, ArtNews, Art in America, Flash Art, Village Voice, Time Out New York, Kunstforum (Germany); BijutsuTecho (Japan); Applaus (Germany) and others.