Josh Faught and William J. O’Brien
Lisa Cooley Fine Art is pleased to present an exhibition of work by Josh Faught and William J. O’Brien. The show begins with a reception for the artists on May 8th from 6 to 8 pm, and continues through June 19th, 2011.
This exhibition is less the beginning of a dialogue than a continuation of a long-standing one between both the artists and their respective work. It is a dialogue distinguished by its keen wit, double meanings, and thoughtful pauses. Easily moving from the intimate to the everyday, from the historical to the confessional, it follows its own meandering logic, with little left outside the range of conversation. Above all this exchange is open-ended and always occurring in the middle, never arriving at an expedient closure. Yet numerous shared subjects remain central, including the reclaiming of often undervalued artistic practices – crochet, ikat, knitting, loom weaving, traditional ceramics, et al. – into sensuous, complex, and striking assemblages. These mediums are not addressed with distant nostalgia but a timely and measured sincerity, becoming catalysts for issues of sexual identity, temporality, and the archive. In addressing these subjects, Faught and O’Brien share the belief that culture, with everything that entails, occurs in the quiet liminal moments, not the deafening ruptures. Each work in this exhibition - as a character in this enduring dialogue - exquisitely inhabits these revealing interstices.
Josh Faught’s multimedia works are replete with the physical evidence of their time consuming craftsmanship. Overlapping stripes of loom-woven fabric with evident loose ends are sewn together and casually mounted on makeshift stretchers. Faught’s expressive patchworks are the result of a variety of disciplines: weaving, crochet, knitting, Indonesian ikat, among others. Supplementing these interwoven crafts are personal effects – self-help books, gay-pride pins, archival pamphlets, jewelry, found correspondence – which together effortlessly manage to communicate politically infused emotional states. The paradoxical mixture of frayed edges and meticulous craft is mirrored in the content of the work, which oscillates between domesticity and a timely sense of anxiety. The rallying pins and found texts attached to the works are often reminders that political rhetoric is at its core a desire to communicate. For Faught, the personal/political continuum is open, fragmentary, and necessarily fragile and so are the works.
Whereas Josh Faught’s work unravels slowly, the ceramic sculptures and mixed media works by William J. O’Brien are swift outbursts of reflective dialogue, quickly communicating more than can be immediately absorbed. Handcrafted elements are juxtaposed with found materials, creating abstract collages that tether between chaos and restraint, accident and narrative intent. While clay and ceramics appear frequently in O’Brien’s work, the great variety of materials and mediums utilized signifies that they are secondary to the creative impulse behind them – creating being inseparable from thinking. With antecedents in the work of Bruce Conner, Jack Smith, Al Taylor, and Paul Thek, O’Brien has an ability to let the materials speak – often playfully flirting with the appearance of detritus – while still exhibiting an expressive, singular tone. At the heart of all his open-ended assemblages is a desire to find balance and orientation amidst a contemporary technology-induced vertigo.
Josh Faught received his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006 and currently lives and works in San Francisco. In 2009, he received the prestigious Betty Bowen Award from the Seattle Art Museum, which was accompanied by a year-long solo exhibition. His work has been exhibited in numerous group shows across the country, including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Contemporary Craft, and an upcoming group show with Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. In 2010, he had solo exhibitions at Lisa Cooley Fine Art and Western Bridge in Seattle. His work is in the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art.
William J. O’Brien lives and works in Chicago and received his MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Marianne Boesky Gallery, Shane Campbell Gallery, and World Class Boxing, among others. His work has been exhibited extensively in international group shows, including at the Aspen Art Museum, Galerie Krinzinger, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, and Blum & Poe. His forthcoming solo exhibition at The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago opens this May.