Nick DARMSTAEDTER & Brendan LYNCH – U CAN'T SAY THAT AGAIN AGAIN
For their first exhibition in Paris, U Can't Say That Again Again, Nick DARMSTAEDTER and Brendan LYNCH present new multimedia works. The artists live together in New York City and work in a shared studio as part of the The Still House Group in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The works in this exhibition, as hinted by the title, are byproducts of re-appropriation. First, the artists select an iconography inherent to their own backgrounds and rework the materials into new compositional frames and then the audience experiences a second relational shift while bringing their own associations to the framework. DARMSTAEDTER's work culls more identifiable references while LYNCH exploits abstract considerations.
Both artists present a series of 'painting' that share a parallel in their American associations. DARMSTAEDTER's penny and magnet paintings carefully consider composition through process and color respectively. And the imagery within both series - pennies embossed with Lincoln's profile and a range of refrigerator magnets familiar to his generation -are hyper American motifs. LYNCH's luminous collages cloak Americana with aluminum leaf; a Hudson River School painting and Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. For LYNCH, the images are not about specificity but archetypes of landscape painting and a sex symbol from his adolescence through young adulthood.
The two part from traditional practice in their site-specific installations: DARMSTAEDTER's Rice Rocket and LYNCH's mural, It took time to see.
A rice rocket is a playfully pejorative term describing Japanese made automobiles that have been modified cosmetically to give a false impression of high performance. Here, DARMSTAEDTER has propped a Mercedes-Benz atop a pile of Japanese wholesale rice – a practice that would warrant offense in Japanese culture – but here the artist re-contextualizes the symbol heightening his dual heritage: German-Japanese. While 'identity art' tends to carry a stoic tone, DARMSTAEDTER explores the comic capabilities of racial stereotypes and plays with tokens of mass culture versus individual identity.
The ingredients of LYNCH's mural (a stucco-like paste of tobacco ash suspended in water) inspire no particular nationality; instead they focus on the potential found within the detritus of contemporary life. Ultimately, this work is about process: firstly, the creation of the material and then the gesture of the composition.
Both artists inspire a heightened awareness of our relationship to place and how we define our greater identity through tokens of mass culture.