ZieherSmith presents a new body of work created by London-based artist Paul Housley during a solitary three month residency in Manhattan. Known for adept and captivating reprisals of old master imagery and themes, Housley continues this investigation, punctuating the implied homage with direct identification and contemporary references.
Two versions of Housley’s “Mudpusher,” act as stand-ins for the artist— nude, hirsute and decidedly alone, indicating what could be a universal self-portrait. The figure is seated, at rest, yet still uneasy, with twisted fingers echoing the frenetic energy that pulses through the surrounding environs. Neither a seer from the easel nor commanding control of the gaze, the artist here is, instead, nearly primordial.
As Nigel Cooke writes “the febrile impact of these touches suggests something more troubled than the diligent garret practice of late modernity. Instead, somehow, an up-to-date brand of creative anxiety comes across… fatigued by what could be intuited as a surfeit of painting knowledge.” Velazquez, Picasso, Condo and Charles Schulz are all fodder for appropriation for Housley. The artist has intoned that every painting is a part of a single work, and that every painting is a self portrait. Insanity intersects joyfulness, as the artist inhabits a stately mug-shot of Snoopy, a bewildered crooked-eared cat in goggle-eyed agitation, a wide mouthed businessman whose head is covered in bandages, and the doomed harbinger of a canary alone in its cage.
Housley has shown widely across Europe and been seen in recent New York group shows at White Columns and Andrea Rosen Gallery. In 2008, he mounted a solo show at Sunday gallery in the Lower East Side, which was reviewed in Artforum. He received his Masters degree from the Royal College of Art in London. This is his first solo exhibition at ZieherSmith.