Then and Now- Painters and Their Process delves into the painter’s process through the eyes of an actor, Martha Gehman. Ms. Gehman takes an in-depth and fresh look at the artist’s that have come together over the past four years under the name of Pharmaka, asking questions about their process. Ms. Gehman is a member of the famed Actors Studio in New York City and is trained in method acting, which serves as a means for actors to tap into their personal truth. It is the painter’s process that interest Ms. Gehman as it relates to an imagined reality and a visceral act of self-expression.
Pharmaka first began in 2003 as a conversation between three painters as they discussed and compared ideas and thoughts about their own work and the state of painting within the art world. Despite the different backgrounds and approaches to painting of each artist, a consensus was immediately reached that the status quo of the commercial art world felt neither relevant nor substantive. Each agreed that the hype-driven system of art stars, MFA artist-hatcheries, and bizarre auction prices was out of touch with the personal needs and reasons that drive painters to work. These artists vowed to try to do something about it, if only for each other and the tradition they love. The group soon increased in number through word of mouth and began meeting weekly for studio visits and discussions about what painting is, how to make it better, and its relevance in the technology-driven corporatized world of today. They put their ideas into writing in the tradition of the manifestos of art movements of the 20th century, and adopted a name: “Pharmaka”- an ancient Greek word associated with painters’ materials that could mean either ‘poison’ or ‘remedy.’
In the winter of 2004, the group decided to take their dialogue public with a series of three concurrent exhibitions in downtown Los Angeles, Hollywood, and Los Feliz. As a result of those exhibitions, Pharmaka was invited to open a gallery space in the Historic Bank District, as part of the revitalization of Downtown L.A. The new gallery took the name of the group and was established as a non-profit exhibition space devoted to showing and discussing painting. The members of the group built the gallery by hand and opened the doors in early 2005. In more than two years of operation, Pharmaka has presented a diverse and unique series of exhibitions that look at painting and drawing from the point of view of the artist.
Now, in the summer of 2007, Pharmaka re-presents the ideas which it was founded upon in an effort to communicate from the perspective of another art form and how the creative process manifests as art.
Artists: Fumiko Amano, Jeff Britton, Randall Cabe, Christopher Cousins, Stanley Dorfman, Tim Forcum, Shane Guffogg, Laura Hipke, Doro Hofmann, Patricia Howard, Tim Isham, Maureen Maki, Christopher Monger, Michael Napper, Ana Osgood, Michael Rosenfeld, Robert Rossoff, Luke Rothschild, John Scane, Vonn Sumner, and Alissa Warshaw