Stephen Bush: The Lure Of Paris, 2007
Oil on linen, 72 x 72 inches, 183 x 183 cm
Francis Alÿs, Stephen Bush, Philip Akkerman
Goff+Rosenthal is pleased to present a group exhibition of three artists: Francis Alÿs, Stephen Bush and Philip Akkerman, painters that all engage in some form of repetition of subject matter as a fundamental strategy (or one of several) in their painting.
In the case of Francis Alÿs' "rotulista", or sign-painter paintings, the artist would make a painting based on a particular image and engage a Mexico City signpainter (or signpainters) to make reproductions, in their own style, of the same image and display the works together as one piece. Philip Akkerman has, since 1981, only painted his self-portrait. To date he has made more than 2,500 paintings of the same subject - himself. And the Australian painter Stephen Bush has repainted his painting "The Lure of Paris" twenty-seven times in the past two decades from memory, but always in the same size, the same tones of grey, white and black and with nearly indistinguishable imagery of a Babar-like figure scaling a rocky cliff with a Romantic seascape in the background.
In each of these cases the subject is the same and never the same. As "copies", the subjects of these paintings can now be viewed as mutable in an infinitesimal number of ways. In this way painting opens up a world of possibilities that photography - ever reproducible and reprintable - can never attain.
Repetition, once a spiritual and technical practice, has been redefined in our age of mass production and mechanized reproduction. From Rembrandt to Warhol, art historical precedents of repetition differ drastically, typically emphasizing either process or product. The process, however, becomes a philosophical act, visually manifest in the product(s) and historically tied to ritual, meditation and the search for the extraordinary or the sublime beneath the temporal fabric of the ordinary.
By exhibiting Alÿs, Bush and Akkerman together, this exhibition seeks to open up for question the nature of repetition in painting as an intellectual and conceptual pursuit. In addition, this exhibition addresses - in a small way - the practice of painting itself. Alÿs, Akkerman and Bush are all painters of similar ages who emerged as painters in a time when photography was a more dominant and fashionable medium. How do these artists use the strategies of repetition and copying to address or comment on the very act of painting itself? What role does photography play, either as inspiration or foil?
The painterly repetition employed by these artists opposes machine-made technology for repetition (photography, digital, etc) that has come to define our contemporary visual reality. These three painters, from different angles, incorporate a fundamental human element - flawed and imperfect - into these "copies" that transforms the act of painterly repetition itself to something greater.
Exhibition: June 14 - August 3, 2007
Gallery hours: Tues-Sat 11 am - 6 pm
Goff + Rosenthal Gallery
537B West 23rd Street
USA-New York, NY 10011
Telephone +1 212 675 0461
Fax +1 212 675 0534