SWISS CHEESE AND THE DOORS: A ONE NIGHT STAND
Milan / April 11 —May 12, 2012
Nate Lowman uses pre-existing photos, phrases, icons and idioms - from media reality, everyday life, his own mind and memory - to craft a formal and strategic approach around a personal and cultural identification with images, drawing on histories of collage, appropriation, and assemblage since the 1960s, including Sigmar Polke, Cady Noland, and Richard Prince.
Swiss Cheese and The Doors: A One Night Stand is a diverse new group of works - paintings in pointillist alkyd and oil technique, a theatrical lighting installation, found objects, and a new series of shaped canvases - built to shift between narrative themes and experiential space.
The shaped canvas is an invention which allows for both spatial and pictorial depiction. For Lowman, it opens cultural and historical dimensions - grafting bulletholes or a scrawled Mickey Mouse hat onto a 3D hunk of cheese - conflating or confounding an advanced joke with "advanced art".
(Swiss) cheese, in general and as painted here, could embody the linguistic forms of the polyseme (a word with multiple meanings), the metonym (something not named in itself but called by the name of something closely associated with it), and the cliche.
Another series of canvases shaped like car air fresheners printed with the stars and stripes exists in a similarly odd universe: pre-packaged with mixed messages, their inherent absurdity is elaborated in Rastafarian or Italian flag hues and off-register Xerox dots.
Symbolic of mundane or occult thresholds, the doors of Swiss Cheese... are literal and illusory, salvaged and painted entrances and impasses. And like swiss cheese, doors signify broadly, spatially, and paradoxically: closed, hidden spaces, partial glimpses passing through holes or glass panes.
Swiss cheese on a mouse trap, or a trap door, used to escape.
"No one here gets out alive," Jim Morrison sang, his miragelike, flaming face method-acted by Val Kilmer on the DVD cover for the eponymous Oliver Stone biopic. Kilmer reportedly practiced Doors songs daily for six months in preparation for the part, requesting that he be called Jim on set. As a UCLA film student, the real Jim Morrison was influenced by but not disciplined in the psychologically and spiritually charged techniques of European experimental theater. He rearranged his surname into the amalgam Mr. Mojo Risin', altering preexisting elements to open up a heightened persona to chant, channel, and dissolve into ether: the classical upper atmosphere, or the ingredient in Gamsol solvent, the mineral spirit that soaks orange and yellow oil into linen.
One Night Stand
In Nate Lowman's images, mistakes and bad memories can be quiet. Stillness can be found in heated moments or flaws major and minor.
When rendered dot by dot, a waving drunk in a crowded bar looks calm, or a dismal sex joke appears pure and condensed. His oversized inkjet prints stretched on canvas are photos or scraps of paper enlarged to billboard scale, as if made to blend with impressive and looming images in city streets. Scuffed and stained with paint, they are both concrete and associative, like language characters strung together to form a detached and hallucinatory grammar, or an esoteric word-key, dull elements combined to unlock a place beyond this one.
Nate Lowman (Las Vegas, 1979) lives and works in New York City. He caught the public’s attention after participating in the group show Unmonumental at New Museum in New York in 2007. His works have been described as “ complex excursions in collage, graffiti and appropriation” by New York Times. He took part in group shows like Fresh Hell, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2010), Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2010), Off the Wall: Part 1 - Thirty Performative Actions, Whitney Museum, New York (2010), The Last Newspaper, New Museum, New York (2010), Mapping the studio, Punta della Dogana / Palazzo Grassi, Venice (2009), New York Minute: 60 Artisti della scena newyorchese, MACRO Future, Rome (2009), Beg Borrow and Steal at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2009). Amongst his most recent solo shows are The Natriot Act, Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo (2009) e Nate Lowman, The Hydra Workshop, Hydra, Greece (2009).