Stux Gallery is pleased to present Past Present Present Past, an exhibition of photographs by Josef Fischnaller. This marks the artist’s first solo exhibition at Stux since joining the gallery in 2014, and is his first solo exhibition in New York. Past Present Present Past will serve as the inaugural exhibit for Stux’s new location in midtown Manhattan at 24 West 57th Street near 5th Avenue.
Fischnaller’s larger-than-life photographs reference classical paintings of Vermeer and Caravaggio without losing sight of the vibrant present. The tradition of portraiture and its essential requirement of posing and staging are the central subjects of Fischnaller’s works: his models appear as classical nobleman and commissioners, and pose as stand-ins for their own art-historical influences. His background in high-end fashion photography comes through in the compositions, evoking the same sense of intense construction, visionary planning and seductive theatricality. The scenes are dignified but embellished with surprising pops of edibles and gaudy ornaments. They rely on the fascinating mutuality of modern absurdity and the ubiquity of art historical cues. Riddle-like in their construction, the saturation of color, pattern and arrangements provides humor in its surprise as much as it does discomfort. The elements of the picture fit together as seamlessly and vibrantly as an eclectic rococo interior, but their true success lies in their irresistible demand for further inspection within their blinding excessiveness. Lace, gold and diamonds are convincingly substituted for candy wrappers, Rubix Cubes and ashtrays.
The past’s norms and celebrations of people in portraiture are reincarnated with the present’s analog, fusing the delightful luxury of charms and bobbles with the absurdity of motorcycles and cooked spaghetti. Fischnaller fully collapses chronological distance through these acknowledgements and substitutions. Much like photographers Vik Muniz, Cindy Sherman or painter Kehinde Wiley, Fischnaller’s characters and constructions bring a self-reflective presence to the work and it’s subject. The distance from the original subject is elongated while the temporal distance is shortened and, unlike that of Muniz, Sherman or Wiley, the subject becomes as disposable as the fruits, jewels, and marshmallows of his references and edits.
Josef Fischnaller was born in Grieskirchen, Austria in 1964. From his early apprenticeship to Photography in Vienna, he moved directly into photography for high-end fashion print and for opera and movie stars. Since his first solo exhibition at Steins, Wien, Austria in 1988, Fischnaller’s work has been exhibited throughout Austria and Germany, including venues such as the U-Hof Linz, Germany (1996); the Galerie Ernst Hilger, Wien, Austria (2011) and most recently Galerie Friedmann-Hahn, Berlin, Germany (2013). Fischnaller received the CCA Venus Gold and Silver awards, the International Andy Award of Montreux Public Interest and the Cresta Awards for Unicef in 2006. Fischnaller currently lives and works in Berlin.
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