VOLTA NY

Booth 1.06

March 5 – 9, 2014

ADAM MYSOCK
What Your Children Will Look Like According to Gordon Moore, 2014
acrylic on panel
.95 x .75 inches
after: Charles Hayter's Miniature Portrait of Sir Peter Francis Bourgeois (after Beechy) (1811)
and an illustration by Ed Valigursky

In the late 1960s Intel cofounder Gordon Moore predicted that integrated circuits would get
twice as fast and be halved in size every 18 months. This affects the processors and memory
in our computers and even the number of pixels in our digital cameras. Moreover, it’s held true
for over 50 years now. Moore’s Law has played arguably the greatest role in determining the
pace of technological advancement of our era. But as a small-scale painter, I’m uniquely aware
of an opposing custom in painting. Essentially painting has long held a bigger-is-better mentality,
and throughout its history has rarely ventured toward the miniature. In the final piece in the suite,
I wanted to explore what my work would look like if it had gotten exponentially smaller over the
four-month span during which I’ve been painting Valigursky’s robot. Beginning with the six-inch
width maintained throughout the rest of the series, I divided the dimensions by two three times
(the first month would have been marked by six inch wide pieces, the second month by three inch
pieces, the third by inch and a half pieces, and finally by three-quarter inch pieces in the final month).
The result is simultaneously absurd and devotional.

ADAM MYSOCK
The Last Six, Under Six, Murdered by a Gun in the Sixth, 2014
acrylic on copper, mounted in wall
14 x 39 inches

Late last year, a local news station was reporting on the shooting death of a 7-month old child. 
As part of their reporting, the anchor described that – since 2010 –
6 children had been “gunned-down” in New Orleans. 
I recognized some of the murder scenes she mentioned as locations within the Central City neighborhood,
where I had witnessed the murder of an unarmed 16 year old a decade ago. 
It turns out that four of those six children were killed in, or near, Central City –
within the city’s Sixth Police District. 
In fact, one child had been gunned-down per year starting in 2010.  Looking into the statistics further,
I discovered that I had to go back to 1994 – one of the most violent years in our city’s history – to even find
another child who had been killed as the result of gunfire. The 16-year lull seemed huge compared to the
short regularity with which kids are being killed now. 
In order to draw attention to the children and the frightening timeline of their murders, I’ll be creating bullet holes
in the gallery wall at measured intervals to serve as a timeline of sorts. 
A portrait will be inserted in each as a reminder of a bullet holes’ effects – the last six children,
under six years old, killed in New Orleans’ Sixth Police District.

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
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
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
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
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
Upon Meeting the Permanently Discontent, 2014
acrylic on panel
7.42 x 6 inches
after: Caravaggio's David with the Head of Goliath (1611) and an illustration by Ed Valigursky

Digital technology and culture rely on a built-in dissatisfaction in order to progress.
The science fiction that once promised us jet packs and flying cars has been replaced by
persuasive speculation about the newest features that’ll define upcoming devices and services
(think “I heard the next iPhone  will  have  a  bigger  screen.”  or  “Pretty  soon smart watches and
Google Glasses will replace the tablet.”) And, stereotypically, these progressive challenges to the
technological status quo are  fueled  by  younger generations, generations who’ve been raised to
expect products to become obsolete every few years. The narrative of David and Goliath has been
used  here  to  illuminate  this  challenge. Rather than pinpoint the differences in stature between
the characters that define the original story, I’m relying on David’s youth to serve as an opponent
to a dated technology. In the timeline of the robot’s life, we’re seeing him older than ever before
and, as a result, the prey of a discontent operator. A bit of a Catch-22 – A culture expecting
planned obsolescence creates technology unable to survive, in order to sustain its own evolution.

ADAM MYSOCK
The Beginning of a Long Distance Relationship, 2014
acrylic on panel
4 x 6 inches
after: Edward Hopper's City Sunlight (1954) and an illustration by Ed Valigursky

Since the dawn of the Internet Age, there have been viruses, scams, and hidden codes that have existed
only in the background of our digital activities. Unless we’re programmers ourselves,
we happily go about our business, ignorant of the underlying depth of digital space.
Every once in a while, I enjoy contemplating the layers of our technology
(and, as a result, its surveillance potentials – i.e. who  gets  to  see  our activity, who’s responsible for setting
the parameters in which we get to function, and how our choices impact the larger systems involved).
In this work, Valigursky’s robot lurks in the corners of a neighboring building, watching the female character
as she focuses on the more obvious encroaching claw. Our awareness of the robot’s presence isn’t shared by
the woman, but it  may  serve  to highlight our own vantage point as voyeurs. We recognize ourselves staring
at her as intently as technology is, but at least he’s had the decency to reveal (at least a part of) himself.

Information

JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is proud to announce the gallery’s participation at the upcoming VOLTA NY Art Fair in booth 1.06, in conjunction with The Armory Show in New York City. JFG will be presenting a new suite of paintings entitled, The Jetsam, by artist ADAM MYSOCK. VOLTA NY will be open from 6 – 9 March, 2014, with a VIP Preview on Thursday 6 March, 11am - 5pm.

Mysock says of the latest suite of work:

We measure time by observing the evolution of the technologies around us. 

We’ve done so for generations.  Think the Stone Age.  The Bronze Age.  The Atomic Age.

But in our lifetime, the rate of technological development has accelerated so rapidly that the periods of cultural growth we describe via innovations are getting exponentially shorter.  Our lives no longer take place within a distinct “age” — we’re progressing through multiple eras within a single decade, sometimes every few years. 

In a sense, time moves faster because we’re devouring technology faster.

No matter the pace — however — our route through these mechanized milestones is bound to generate casualties – discarded contraptions – abandoned, left to intermingle with memories in the backdrops of our past.  It’s the ghosts of those devices, our interactions with them, and the shared historical contexts that populate my newest work.

The paintings, viewed one-by-one, encourage an examination into the causes, actualities, or consequences of disregarding the momentous correlation between progress and its artifacts.  Perhaps more importantly though, when viewed as a suite — in which we watch Ed Valigursky’s archetypal robot confronting key moments of a particularly human existence — the series of images offers a more comprehensive occasion to challenge the perspective from which we experience both time and its markers. 

ADAM MYSOCK was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1983. Mysock earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Art History by 2004 from Tulane University. He then received an MFA from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Mysock's work has been exhibited nationwide as well internationally and is in private collections across the US and Europe, including those of Thomas Coleman, Michael Wilkinson and the SØR Rusche Collection in Berlin. He was the 2009 jury winner in the annual No Dead Artists juried exhibition. In August 2012, he was awarded first prize “Best in Show” in the Ogden Museum’s Louisiana Contemporary Annual Juried Exhibition. Mysock exhibited at Pulse Miami Art Fair in December 2012 and Texas Contemporary Art Fair in October 2013 with Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and was selected for the 2013 Southern Edition of New American Paintings. In 2013, Mysock was exhibited in a solo project booth at the VOLTA9 Art Fair in Basel, Switzerland and an upcoming exhibition is planned in Munich in the fall of 2014.

The artist says of his overarching theme:

I’m a revisionist history painter.  Rather than rewrite the narrative of the past to justify an ideology, I repaint yesterday’s imagery in order to rationalize our present circumstances. Mysock says of his work, “Telling stories is a part of human nature; it’s how we relate to one another.  The stories we have in common help us create sincere connections to our neighbors and our surroundings.  What’s more, storytelling – for better or worse – typically involves hyperbole.

As a painter, I’m preoccupied by the undeniable role that the image plays in creating this acceptance of the fictional.  A painting has the authority to make the intangible concrete, and a series of them has the ability to authenticate a fabrication in our collective memory.

I typically start with preexisting images, artifacts from this collective remembrance.  I look for images that shape my pictorial consciousness, that are hard to question because when I first saw them they were presented as the truth.   They have to capture my imagination and they have to feel largely descriptive of a greater story.  From them, I’m given my task – I have to “disrepair” them.  I have to consolidate an earlier world of historical and cultural visual-fact with an evolving understanding of subtlety and gradation.  I find that the discrepancies I discover between the absolute and the nuanced inspire me most.

The resultant work is largely about storytelling, the ownership and authorship of our culture’s visual narratives, and the parallels between those tales.  It’s meant to challenge the truth of “source” and the source of truth.