Friday, January 22, 2010
William Christenberry / Robin Rose / Donald Baechler
January 23 - March 13, 2010
Opening Reception: January 23, 6:30–8:30 pm
William Christenberry: Vintage Kodak Brownies
At the center of William Christenberry’s working process is the Kodak Brownie Holiday camera. How could a seemingly amateur camera from the 1950s, made of plastic for casual consumer use, be so significant to the work of a master artist? Initially Christenberry used the camera to capture the landscape and deteriorating architecture of his southern homeland as inspiration for his paintings. As his career progressed the diminutive photographs produced by the Brownie camera became his most essential and succinct artistic statement. Christenberry’s Brownies are the point from which his oeuvre of sculptures, wall constructions and large format photographs springs.
The exhibition at Hemphill is comprised of extremely rare vintage Brownie prints. These Brownies possess the physical characteristics representative of the time in which they were made and inherent to the magic of their origins. This is the first exhibition of vintage work by William Christenberry. The exhibition provides a unique and unparalleled opportunity to appreciate the wonder as well as the rarity of Christenberry’s vintage Brownies.
Robin Rose: Distortion, Delay & Sustain
The pastiche of postmodern art most often produces little more than pretense. Over time, the more serious the artist seems, the sillier postmodernism appears. Distortion, Delay & Sustain continues the themes displayed in Robin Rose’s recent exhibition at the American University Museum, a side project to his better-known encaustic painting. Utilizing certain postmodern collage and installation strategies, Rose employs humor and playfulness, graciously avoiding any pretense. This does not mean his effort is any less serious.
Working with various pieces of musical equipment such as guitar distortion effects pedals, a drum kick pedal and speaker cones, Rose reveals and revels in the meta-symbols and meta-myths that have sprung from late 20th Century popular music culture. Each piece strives to produce a kind of mental feedback by placing before us rearrangements of the guitar hero’s magical tools. Through this reassembled hardware of the rock star gods, Rose arrives at a relevant cultural statement. Rose says, “Beyond popular utility there is popular mysticism.” The exhibition is an opportunity for you to tune in, flick your Bic, and light up your cell phone for a different kind of encore.
Donald Baechler: Flower Studies
Donald Baechler has always said, “I’m an abstract artist before anything else.” This statement might surprise those familiar with the artist’s repertoire of images such as ice cream cones, horses, and roses. Yet, Baechler’s paintings and prints are more concerned with the juxtaposition of opposing formalist qualities than with subject matter. His works incorporate deliberate and unintentional gestures, textured and flat surfaces, color and black and white palettes.
In Baechler’s recent black and white flower prints, the flower becomes the vehicle through which Baechler explores texture, line, color, form, and balance. The results are complex and engaging compositions that beckon the viewer to look beyond a recognizable symbol and consider the process of art-making.
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Washington, DC 20005