TEXAS CONTEMPORARY

Booth 611

October 10 – 13, 2013

MONICA ZERINGUE

Fountain, 2011

graphite on claybord

13 x 13 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Hydra (study), 2010

graphite on claybord

13 x 17 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Puddle, 2009

graphite on claybord

13 x 13 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Three Knots, 2008

graphite on claybord

13 x 13 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Take Only What You Need, 2013

graphite on primed linen

13 x 13 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Ophelia Descending, 2012

graphite on primed linen

41 x 31 inches

MONICA ZERINGUE

Uphill, 2013

graphite on primed linen

13 x 13 inches

ADAM MYSOCK
And lo, three men stood by Abraham: and when he saw [them], he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, 2011
acrylic on panel
11 x 12 inches

This image really began with my knowledge of the American artist of the source painting – William Sydney Mount. While Mount is acknowledged as one of the first painters to present African- Americans in a positive light, his beliefs about slavery were at odds with Abraham Lincoln’s. In response, he seems to have wrestled with the good and evil aspects of his beliefs. The imagery of Moses on his knees (from Domenico Beccafumi’s Punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram) comes from a similar narrative about a struggle between good and evil. In it, Moses’ divine connections were challenged by tribal leaders and as a result the earth split open and swallowed the malicious contenders, leaving only the good.  William Sydney Mount’s painting of The Banjo Player serves as a stage that hints at both something positive (the musical reference) and something negative (figures emerging on their knees, as if being released from captivity.) The musical poster (from 1979) is intentionally playful to offset the otherwise tense environment and may reference Lincoln’s action here, a similarity between Moses’ bearded likeness and that of Charlie Daniels, or the connection between a “pure prairie” and the gathered hay in the background.

ADAM MYSOCK
And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him,
Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward,
and southward, and eastward, and westward
, 2011
acrylic on panel
16 x 22 inches

This piece is about redirection. While inserting Lincoln into Eastman Johnson’s In the Fields, it became quite apparent that emulating Johnson’s paint handling would make it quite difficult to capture a likeness. I needed to clarify Lincoln’s face in order to give him an identity. To overcome the obvious stylistic discrepancies, bizarre elements of Massimo Stanzione’s The Sacrifice of Moses were inserted to pull attention right, most specifically the pointing Moses. Baseball player Pat Burrell (of the 2010 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants) stands in his appropriate position – left field – assisting in the redirection by pointing to the opposite side. As a baseball player, Burrell’s presence in the field is logical, even if his appearance is unexpected.

ADAM MYSOCK
So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him;
and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five
years when he departed out of Haran
, 2011
acrylic on panel
16 x 14 inches

This piece began with two stories about striking a rock to get water – that of Moses from Exodus and that of the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island. In Exodus, Moses responds to the thirsty complaints of the wandering Israelites – he strikes a rock with his staff and water pours out (seen here in the background to the right from Abraham Bloemaert’s Moses Striking the Rock). In Gilligan’s Island, the S.S. Minnow strikes a rock and water pours in. In both, the rock/water combination serves as both reminder of death (dehydration or drowning) and the instrument for the affirmation of life. The main image for this piece, Winslow Homer’s Basket of Clams, offers another look at striking a hard surface in order to establish a relationship between life and death – the idea of tapping an opened clam on the shell to see if it will close (a sure sign it’s alive and edible).

ADAM MYSOCK
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, 2011
acrylic on panel
16 x 22.5 inches

This image begins with two allusions to the divinity of nature. Most noticeably, the figure of Moses crouching in the foreground was taken from Sébastien Bourdon's Moses and the Burning Bush, an episode where God speaks to Moses through a plant. Serving as a stage for Moses, George Inness’s Evening at Medfield, Massachusetts, was supposedly a manifestation of the artist’s belief in the idea that nature was a direct link between the material world and the divine (a belief that resulted in a very particular “glow” from many of Inness’ paintings). In further considering the idea of divinity and nature, the tall tale of Johnny Appleseed came to mind (many versions of which reference Appleseed as a preacher as well as an obsessive, pot-wearing gardener). Because of the darkly silhouetted forms in Inness’ painting and Moses’ posture of covering his eyes, it made sense to conceal elements from a Highlights For Kids Hidden Pictures drawing featuring Johnny Appleseed throughout the composition.

ADAM MYSOCK
And Abraham looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward
all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the
country went up as the smoke of the furnace
, 2011
acrylic on panel
16 x 20 inches

In a rather straightforward way, there are three parallel stories of food scarcity presented here. The top half of the composition comes from J. M. W. Turner’s Fifth Plague of Egypt. The fifth plague was a disease on the cattle of the Egyptians. The lower half is a cropped section of Thomas Eakins Mending the Net, in which fishermen mend holes in their net. In both cases a staple of nutrition is absent. The third reference highlights a more contemporary (and trivial) understanding of food scarcity – the recurrent disappearance/reappearance of McDonald’s McRib. On the extreme left, Lincoln walks carrying a basket subtly suggesting his role as savior or provider in times of need.

ADAM MYSOCK
Mars on Mars on Mars, 2013
acrylic on panel
5 x 3 inches

We have rovers and cameras on Mars (there’s even a penny from 1909 on
the Martian surface), but does that mean we’re on the surface of Mars?
Sadly, no. While I can watch a web-cam of Niagara Falls from my studio in
New Orleans, it does not mean I’m in New York or southeastern Canada.
Our technology is on Mars, not our pioneers.
Perhaps it’s an overly cynical thought, but it’s one that has allowed me to play
with some visual puns. Looking at the photos of Mars on NASA’s website,
it appears as if the only things on Mars are sand and rocks – or to put it
another way – small pieces of Mars cover Mars itself. From these images,
it seems apparent that Mars is on Mars and nothing more. More allegorically, however,
I recognize that throughout our history we’ve enjoyed imposing our myths on to Mars.
Hence, it made sense to me to use this painting to depict evolving conceptions
of what’s on Mars. The planet as a whole (the oldest conception) sits as the
highest form. It sits atop the face of the Roman god Mars, who sits on the rim
of a crater on the Martian surface. Overall, the celestial body – recognized as
early as 1500 B.C. – sits on the next temporal conception of Mars, who sits on our
most recent conception of Mars. And each keeps us questioning what’s really on Mars.

ADAM MYSOCK
So Close I Can Almost Touch It, 2013
acrylic on panel
5 x 7.75 inches

As mentioned above, we have technology on Mars that serves as a comfortable
proxy for humans as we procrastinate our efforts to actually visit. And that
technology is amazing in its capabilities – we know more about the make-up of
Martian geology and climate than ever before. Through the data being sent
back to Earth we are closer to Mars than any other non-Earth planet.
But we’re not there. Just like Polyphemus, the Cyclops in The Odyssey, we have
limited vision of that over which we aim claim ownership, and our reliance on the
sense of sight alone can hardly provide an accurate understanding of reality.
This investigation into the faults of visual reality as the exclusive reality is commonplace
in my work, and I enjoy how well the tension that arises between the mountain’s horizon

and the Cyclops’s hand and foot ties this piece into my earlier investigations of truth and fiction.

ADAM MYSOCK
Having Found the Lowest Threshold (St. George Slaying the Dragon), 2013
acrylic on panel
7.08 x 6 inches
after: Nicolas Poussin's Massacre of the Innocents (1629)

In the summer of 2013, the murder of Trayvon Martin dominated weeks of news cycles.
As if we needed more of such news, the city of New Orleans had its own slate of what I
referred to as “murdered minors.” The whole phenomenon reminded me of the biblical
Massacre of the Innocents, the story in which Herod orders the execution of all young
males in Bethlehem to avoid the loss of his throne to a newborn king. I began questioning
what justification could possibly defend these modern slayings, and it quickly dawned on
me that it never seemed to take much for the killers to justify their actions.
Sometimes it was a simple as the victim wearing the wrong kind of clothing.
Nicolas Poussin’s The Massacre of the Innocents has always been my favorite depiction of
the aforementioned biblical tale, but much like the killing of youths that seemed to characterize
that summer, it had never been a settled image for me. I decided to experiment with it,
to see what changes I had to compel in order for the actions depicted to feel reasonable.
Having Found the Lowest Threshold (St. George Slaying the Dragon) was the result.
The women and children had to be from another world—they had to be aggressive—
in order for the soldier’s actions to feel “okay.” Sadly, those two criteria could be met simply 
by giving them another skin color and a different vision than the one holding the weapon.

 

HANNAH CHALEW

Vacant Lot II, 2013

pen, ink and gouache, thread on paper, wire