Paranormal Nightlight is Hammer’s 8th one-person exhibition in New York and his second with MIYAKO YOSHINAGA art prospects. As in his last show at the gallery, Hammer continues to use non-explicit imagery arising from his ongoing exploration of violent acts in Lithuania during WWII, specifically the massacre in Kovno that took place the night the Germans entered the city in 1941.
Victimology, always a concern in Jonathan Hammer’s work, is revealed through his singular use of childhood references such as toys, clowns, and monsters as narrative tools. Hammer gives us a universe inhabited by stuffed animals and their counterparts, the bogey men who lurk under the bed. The paranormal events unfold under cover of night, but a child’s nightlight illuminates the psychological terror and abuse. Hammer’s vocabulary of extremes: power/powerlessness; master/slave; victim/victimizer; innocence/culpability; maniac/seer, as well as the artist’s reflexive role in this entire mess, is as vividly evoked in this exhibition as it has been throughout his work.
Paranormal Nightlight includes pastels on paper, an installation on slate, and Hammer’s first exhibited canvases. He further inquires into perversity through the use of exotic skins such as stingray, frog, shark, cow stomach and duck foot, creating an open-ended sculpture of the night sky, a portion of which will also be on display.
A parallel exhibition of Hammer’s two projects; Kovno – Kobe referencing the 1941 massacres in Lithuania and a Japanese diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews, and Tarnish and Shine – Silverpoints, the artist’s retrospective in this medium, will be shown at the Derfner Judaica Museum and The Art Collection at the The Hebrew Home in Riverdale, New York.
Jonathan Hammer is an American artist living in Spain. For 25 years his work has crossed the boundaries of various media and techniques using exotic materials such as skins and porcelain and including books, works on paper (pastels, silverpoints), installation, sculpture, standing screens, photographs and prints. Hammer has had 40 one-person exhibitions (including eight in New York, five of them with Matthew Marks Gallery) in eight countries, and museum surveys at the Geneva Center for Contemporary Art and the Berkeley Museum. His work is included in public collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum. Hammer is an authority on Dada and has published his critical writing on the subject in “Ball and Hammer,” Yale University Press, 2002.