DIVINE FELONY is Vincent Szarek’s (b.1973, US) first solo exhibition in Scandinavia.
Szarek’s artistic practice revolves around contemporary culture, exploring and engaging American iconography in a distilled minimalist fashion. At first glance the slick and beautiful finish of Szarek’s work could be misread as an homage or ironic pastiche on the subject matter, but quickly it becomes apparent that the highly detailed and labor intense execution is an agent for contemplation.
The exhibition takes its title from two famous American prostitutes. Divine was arrested with British actor Hugh Grant in 1995 while preforming oral sex. In 2011 Felony also became an infamous media sensation over night due to her relationship with American actor and sitcom star Charlie Sheen. Both names are executed in sequins, attached to nails, in meter high gothic letters on the gallery walls. The work and title reflects on the nature of the crime, celebrity culture gone wild on so many different levels and on the current nature of our society. No judgment is passed, but it’s hard not to feel a sting of accountability.
In another work a pair of cherries akin to those found on slot machines and in numerous bad tattoos, is presented, suspended in mid air from the ceiling, with chrome stems and high gloss fiberglass dark red cherries, the size of handballs. Mundane iconography presented in a fine art disguise and context. Subversion of image and meaning is a reoccurring strategy in Szarek’s practice. A sparkling golden half star, projecting a mixed aura of military precision and authority and nouveau riche decadence, reveals itself as objectified representation of a hemp leaf. In Szarek’s work, high and low, Americana, minimalism, subcultural iconography, and references to custom bike and surf culture seamlessly merge.
Vincent Szarek has recently (2011) exhibited with Leo Koenig, New York, the exhibition Hi-Fi Chassis received critical praise in The New York Times. Other recent exhibitions include Almine Rech, Paris and Galerie Nicholas Ruzicska in Salzburg. In 2003 he had his first solo exhibition at P.S.1 MoMA, New York. The artist has recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles, where he lives and works.