Brand New Gallery is pleased to present “And Nothing But the Truth” the second solo exhibition by Folkert de Jong at the gallery.
The exhibition’s title refers to the promise of a man to himself to continue to improve and to grow as a person. The idea of morality as a guide to tame chaos through technology and science in order to conquer death and decay at the expense of our human values.
Folkert de Jong departed from a picture that won the World Press Photo in 1973 that has been ingrained in his memory ever since he first saw it when he was just a child. The sequence of pictures taken by photographer Cor Mooijj, shows Formula One driver David Purley, walking away from the crashed and burning car with Roger Williamson still in it, after having attempted in vain to save his colleagues’ life. Mooij depicts the horrific moment in which Purley realizes there’s nothing he can do anymore, sadness, hatred, disbelief seem to flow through his body. The human drama, mortality and vulnerability of this moment and photo are closely connected to questions of guilt and responsibility that have occurred time and again in the works of Folkert de Jong. The motor suit as protection casing seems to carry a certain aura, seemingly making one invincible, only to realize that no outer protection can protect one from life’s course. In the works presented at the gallery, this notion of protection and vulnerability return in different guises.
De Jong is known for his idiosyncratic use of insulation materials such as polyurethane and Styrofoam. Recently, he has broadened his material palette. For instance with transparent Plexiglas vitrines, enclosing foam assemblages of body parts and objects, as if preserved in formaldehyde. Although the psychedelic, brightly coloured plastic seems to radiate light; it also hermetically seals off its contents and filters reality. Within these see-through walls, a transcendental experience might take place. While De Jong’s ‘reservoirs’ emphasise this theatrical effect of museum displays and refer to art historical uses of the vitrine, by the surrealists for instance, they also visualise a contemporary urge to conservation and immortality.
“I see my work as a kind of passage, or crossing. In a literal sense, the imagery and paint emerge from the reverse but also in a conceptual sense this is a space where the viewer reconciles themselves with an ever increasingly simulated experience.
In contrast to collage where distinct juxtapositions disrupt the visual field, my work seeks to describe an experience where all things fuse and sit in a liminal, in-between kind of space - collapsing the internal and external. Subsumed, stained, bound by the surface of the painting.
I often use vernacular sources and humor to point to the tension in this uneasy experience while also activating a third kind of response in the sometimes surreal, or psychedelic, painterly joining of imagery and color. These are paintings for sure, where color, form, and surface play out perceptually for the viewer, but also amalgamations of the act of shifting through a progressively unreal experience.”
Chris Hood’s artworks reflect an understanding of the abstract nature in which personal and social imagery collide in the twenty first century. Combining traditional techniques with the languages of digital territories, his work often features images culled from american counter-culture, art history, and mass media rendered abstract by translation.
Zach Reini uses iconic American imagery and a minimal insertion of the artist’s hand to bastardize and recode the viewer’s relation to cultural symbology. In relation to Hito Steyerl’s essay In Defense of a Poor Image, which is primarily focused on the reproduction of a digital still, Reini implores Steyerl’s alternate definition of a “poor image [as] as an illicit fifth-generation bastard of an original image … it often defies patriarchy, national culture, and indeed copyright.”
The precise cuts and viewing limitations Reini imposes on these icons recodes their symbolism from one of American innocence to a sinister and lewd caricature of American cultural identity. Using a minimal approach to restrict the visual narrative of these icons reinterprets their importance in the American codified vernacular as new arbiters of a darker purpose, thusly introducing a form of Bakhtin’s body grotesque to those who are loyal to these beloved figures; Or, rather, the small windows into the underlying painting uncover the once grotesque pretense to reveal the inherent representation, or poor image, below.
Reini accomplishes a definitive blow to the ivory tower of American innocence forcing those once idealized symbols to be viewed as lewd, secretive subjects, as illicit backroom dealers of easily digestible happiness, as shadow-world puppet masters. Though the actions of these figures are physically concealed, their newly conscripted purpose resonates through Reini’s manipulated scenes in his manifested world of innocence-as-transgressor.
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