VOLTA 9

Booth A21

June 10 – 15, 2013

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 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
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
Inward, 2013
acrylic on panel
7.5 x 6.5 inches

This second Bonestell illustration affords me an opportunity to further describe
the mid-century works I’m appropriating. Each image was a visual description
of one stage of a round trip to Mars. Even before we had been to the moon,
artists were visually describing how we would travel to another planet!
Whereas the first image in this series offered me the chance to look backward
at how we had historically imaged the heavens, this second painting provided
an opportunity to look inward, to consider how precise, or believable, my own
visions could be. I chose an image with minute details and multiple figures in
order to challenge my ability to create a specific vision, even if it was based on a
preexisting conception. In Backward, the preserved circle had been purposefully
diminutive to indicate a recession into space. Here, in Inward, the circle is placed
centrally – at the core of the composition – to imply an interior, a nucleus.

ADAM MYSOCK
Outward, 2013
acrylic on panel
7.5 x 7.5 inches

In Outward, I chose to return to the allure of the distant. I took a Bonestell
illustration with a great deal of grounded depth and cropped out the most
foregrounded aspects and figures to reveal only those features too far off to obtain.
The preserved color – the muted orange – is the warmest, most visually aggressive
hue and, therefore, advances out from its dim settings. Overall, I’m playing with two
visual sensations of “outward.” As we look at the representational setting, we look
outward at a depth of landscape. If we’re solely aware of the formal elements, however,
we’re confronted with a small orange dot that pulls outward away from the flat
surface of the panel. Although it’s not necessarily a feature unique to this reference
piece, I also enjoyed the arrow-like forms present in the ships and mountains
as markers of an outward sense of movement.

ADAM MYSOCK
Forward, 2013
acrylic on panel
7.5 x 6.5 inches

With Forward, I wanted an image with the clearest spatial hierarchy –
back, middle, and front. I aspired to have the eye move steadily toward
the front of the image through the chain of man’s constructions, ending
at the preserved circle, which sits on the closest structure and is intended
to most evidently lie on the front, or top, of the two dimensional image.
In my research on Chesley Bonestell, I had also discovered that he has an
asteroid and crater on the surface of Mars named after him, and I thought the
rocky forms in the bottom of this piece paid homage to those facts nicely.
Some rocks remain as individual forms (symbols of his asteroid),
while the collective mass frames a bowl meant to stand in for his Martian crater.

ADAM MYSOCK
Backward, 2013
acrylic on panel
7.5 x 7.5 inches

In the 1940s and 50s, we didn’t have the necessary technology to see what the
surface of Mars really looked like. But we did have artists like Chesley Bonestell,
an American painter, designer and illustrator whose work heavily inspired the
development of the American space program. Through their images, Bonestell and
his peers gave our collective imagination the fuel it needed to give form to conceptualized realities.
To put it another way, we desired what we could only see as glowing spheres on a clear night
and the illustrations of science fiction gave those ambiguous objects of desire a near-tangible form.
To that end, I created the first of four paintings in which I’ve taken a Bonestell illustration,
preserved a circle of the image’s original color and darkened the remainder. Viewed from a distance,
the darkened field becomes a night sky and the preserved disk becomes a faraway,
glowing moon or planet. The dimmed scenery reveals itself only when we’re willing,
and brave enough, to travel nearer to those distant heavens.

 

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
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.

Information

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce that the gallery will return to the VOLTA9 Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland, presenting a solo installation of new paintings by Adam Mysock, from June 10-15, 2013.  This will be the gallery’s second year exhibiting work at VOLTA9 as part of Art Basel Week in Switzerland.

Painter ADAM MYSOCK is fast becoming known for his finely detailed paintings which combine imagery from art historical masterworks along with pop culture icons and Americana.  His style is redolent of Mark Tansey’s in its juxtaposition of classical and modern imagery, yet Mysock’s works are painted miniatures, employing over 400 brush strokes per square inch and finished with 17 layers of clear coat to achieve a flawless gloss veneer.  The paintings are pristine and thought provoking, ruminating upon the shared border of myth and recorded history.  As Mysock has stated, “[My work is] ultimately about storytelling, the ownership and authorship of our culture's visual narratives, and the parallels between those tales, but my main role is to challenge the truth of "source" and the source of truth.”

Adam Mysock was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1983 - the son of an elementary school English teacher and a lab technician who specializes in the manufacturing of pigments. On account of a steady stream of folk tales from his mother, his father's vividly dyed work clothes, and a solid Midwestern work ethic, he developed an interest in painting and drawing all things Americana from a very early age. Mysock earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art History from Tulane University and received an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

After his studies, he became the mural coordinator for the City of Cincinnati's MuralWorks mural program and worked as an adjunct drawing professor at Sinclair Community College in Dayton. He is a Professor of Practice at Tulane University where he currently teaches and maintains a studio. Mysock's work has been exhibited in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana and is in private collections across the US.  He was a 2009 jury winner in the annual No Dead Artists juried exhibition and 2012 he was awarded “Best in Show” at the Ogden Museum’s Louisiana Contemporary Annual Juried Exhibition. Mysock exhibited at Pulse Miami Art Fair in December 2012 and was selected for the 2013 Edition of New American Paintings. In September, his work will be exhibited at the Dishman Art Museum at Lamar Univeristy in Beaumont, Texas.  Adam Mysock lives and works in New Orleans and is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery.

 At VOLTA9, the gallery will present works from three series of works by Mysock, Wrong Sounding Stories, A History of Missteps and Backward, Inward, Outward, Forward.

 Of his latest series, the artist says:

 I'm told that long ago our ancestors spent a great deal of time looking up at the night sky, bonding with the celestial lights that passed overhead, and relating those distant forms to the mythology of their time. It’s noteworthy, however, that after generations of dreaming about those astronomical bodies, after generations of yearning to visit our celestial neighbors, something happened after we made it to the moon.  We lost interest; once the inaccessible became accessible, it lost its luster.  Since the last man walked on the lunar surface more than 40 years ago, we've lived in an age of declining fascination. Somehow, it seems, we spoiled the mystique of the heavens by visiting the moon. That's precisely where the visual conversations in my most recent work begin.  Throughout the paintings, I examine the motivations, rewards, and realities of exploration and ambition.  Whether transforming the moon into the characters of an elusive narrative or veiling Space Race illustrations as a means of measuring past enterprise against present inquiry, each piece tests the perspective from which we progress. Looking backward, inward, outward, and forward, the work quietly asks where we are and what we're going to do about it.

 VOLTA9 is hosted at the Dreispitzhalle venue located at Helsinkistrasse 5, Gate 13, 4142 Münchenstein/Basel, Switzerland during the week of Art:Basel. The fair is open to the public on Monday 10 June from 2:00pm - 7:00pm and Tuesday 11 June to Saturday 15 June from 10:00am - 7:00pmJonathan Ferrara Gallery will be exhibiting at Booth A21