BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies
PROTO Gallery proudly presents BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies, a decidedly frontal take on the male form, from an array of exceptional contemporary artists within the New York environs and beyond.
Taking its name from the Barberini Faun, a masterpiece of Hellenistic Greek sculpture, BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies takes the primary attributes of this artwork, usage of the prototypically male figure as subject matter and a propensity for Rococo excess and flair, as its organizing principles. The overt sensual nature of the Barberini Faun was in keeping with the general qualities of Hellenistic visual culture, which included corporeal eroticism, passionate expressiveness, and high visual drama. Fauns or satyrs as a mythological symbol, along with maenads, were an apt encapsulation of era’s visual milieu. Said to be companions of the God Dionysus, they represented, among other things, a lustful nature, a feral and uncivilized disposition, as well as being an iconographic representation for male homosexuality.
While BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies, certainly includes representations of what could be called the “gay gaze” toward the contemporary male nude, the show is by no means exclusive to this, considering, rather, a wide spectrum of “beholder” including artists from within the LGBTQ+ community and beyond. The secondary title Totes Masc for Samesies serves as a whimsical critique and light-hearted deprecation of “hook- up” app banter (i.e. “Masc for Masc” and “straight acting seeks same”) regarding sexual preferences and the notions of “masculine” expression.
By no means a summation of the myriad concerns of the various artists within this show, the aforementioned descriptors and attributes do intersect, at some points, with their larger conceptual and thematic interests. Rebecca Levi takes the subject matter of “bears” (LGBT persons of hirsute, stocky physicality) through the domesticity-connoting processes of embroidery and stitching handiwork, for art that conflates notes of hearth, diversity, and desire. Dustin Yager explores Gay male markers and parlance through a wide range of traditional and inventive ceramic & pottery forms. Matthew Capaldo offers figurative works that isolate and expose images of cyber-based, pre-sexual exchanges. This line of interest is continued in the works John Kramer, whose suggestive forms and innuendo abstractions point overtly toward male physicality.
Todd Durm uses vintage nudes from erotic ephemera (Physique Pictorial magazines, eighties-era printed porn) and juxtaposes these with floral imagery in haiku-like collages. Paul Rizzo diverges from his primary self-portrait practice to display painted renderings of gay pornography and literature, linking personal and communal markers of sexual expression. Daniel Morowitz exhibits kaleidoscopic dreamscapes populated by abstracted bodies, tromp-l’œil treatments, and nature based forms while Paul Anagnostopoulos submits technicolor examples from his newest body of work, wherein Greco-Roman figures and new-wave, tropical vistas fill the frame. This sense of dazzle and theatricality is also evinced in the photographs of Carl Gunhouse who claims among his varied subject matter the testosterone-laden peacockery and bravura of regional pro-wrestling tournaments and punk-rock shows.
The Barberini Faun is often described as exposed and vulnerable. These intimate qualities can be explored within the new works of Dylan Hurwitz, whose painted forms range in subject matter from personal moments between friends to glimpses of heightened encounters, both pre and post-coital in nature. Mavi Phillips holds the body as both landscape and locus of personal encounter in her newest series of photographic documentations and Alexandra Rubinstein continues her ruminations on 70’s-era figures, culled from a variety of pornographic film stills and Playgirl magazine pullouts. Kristen Racaniello examines the body as an intersection of privilege and power (or lack thereof) in her painted series of covered and uncovered bodies, wherein political and cultural ideology is conveyed through a variety of sign, including choice of dress, tattoo design, and accouterment. Lastly, sign and symbol play a central role in the sculptural work of Oliver Jones, who mines historical legend and myth, reconfiguring what he finds in ways both timely and personal.
Theoretically uncovered in the area around Hadrian’s Tomb (Castle Sant’Angelo), the Barberini Faun is thought to have been a defensive weapon, hurled from the parapets of Hadrian’s Mausoleum fortress down upon the invading Goth hordes that attacked Rome in 537 AD. This hypothesized former life of the Barberini Faun may be the best analogy yet for understanding the impetus for and background aspirations of this show. As great shifts and schisms continue within the American scene, the drive to create and instinct to express may now be more important than ever. And artwork can be a gauntlet, thrown down to challenge apathy and fight against the insinuating forces of suppression
and compliance. The artists gathered in BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies, continue to assert their creative vision and agency, flexing their power with flourish and aplomb, and in the gloaming of this particular period of American experience, with Hellenistic abandon as well.
BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies is the 2nd in a three part series of concurrent exhibitions reconsidering the male figure as visual subject, revealed in the work of contemporary artists from the New York area and beyond. The series began with:
KOUROS or Collapsing New People, Opens Wednesday July 18th from 6-8pm at M E N, 13 Monroe Street, New York, NY 10002.
The exhibition series concludes with:
BATHERS and The Backroom, Opening Friday August 10th from 7-9pm at Four Eleven Gallery, 411 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA 02657. https://www.fourelevengallery.com
BARBERINI or Totes Masc for Samesies is on view at PROTO Gallery, 66 Willow Avenue, Hoboken, NJ 07030 from July 22nd - August 26th, 2018 weekends 11am-5pm and by appointment. For further information please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +1.201.706.8337. All Images subject to copyright. (Matthew Capaldo and Paul Rizzo appear in conjunction with Four Eleven Gallery)
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