The Varieties of Religious Experience
Thierry-Goldberg Gallery is pleased to present THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, the first New York solo exhibition of Dave McDermott.
Using William James’ book The Varieties of Religious Experience as a point of departure, McDermott selected passages or phrases from the text that suggested to him a direction of their own, and followed each course to it’s conclusion, resulting in a subtle, delightfully cryptic series of paintings, drawings and collages.
In The Varieties of Religious Experience, McDermott continues his ongoing visual exploration of detachment as subject, and a feeling of enigmatic detachment certainly guides the works in the exhibition. But this sensation is matched by a strong sense of order that guides the viewer from one work to the next. Dark, quiet still life flower paintings give way to collages that vacillate between surreal deconstructions of form and dark humour. In the several “yarn paintings” that are included in the exhibition, we see various forms placed within a black expanse that echoes a dark stage, the diverse array of figures, shapes and symbols grouped together on the picture plane, emphasizing relationships of play and conundrum, offering us just enough to begin drawing inferences while intentionally holding something back. We are left not with a didactic exposition of ideals, but an assembly of sensations, all related but none explained.
This built-in ambiguity is central to McDermott’s practice. Drawing on modernist aesthetics of art, design, and literature (the artist has cited Matisse, Guston, Paul Rand and Raymond Roussel as influences) McDermott seeks to create works where the limits of perception are foregrounded. In the collages, “European Diary” or “Woman (comic)”— a partially obfuscated woman in the latter and a fragment of an old man being somehow titillated in the former — are remainders of “stories” that are hidden away or covered up by overlapping visuals that reassign emphasis within each piece. Whatever the image, there is always a sense that something may be untold.
Dave McDermott (b. 1974, Santa Cruz, CA) lives and works in Brooklyn. He holds a Master’s in Fine Art from the Parsons School of Design in New York, and a BFA from The Academy of Art University, San Francisco, CA. He has previously had solo exhibitions at Grimm, Amsterdam, Duve, Berlin, and Twig, Brussels. Group exhibitions include Thierry Goldberg Gallery; Room East; Andre Schlechtriem; and On Stellar Rays – all in New York.