Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to present Automatic, a show of works on paper curated by artist Chris Churchill. Automatic — the title of this exhibition — loosely references the surrealist notion of automatic drawing and psychic automatism. The show pulls together an eclectic group of artists, whose work deals with the immediacy of drawing in a variety of ways. Bucking the conventional notion of pure aesthetics or stylization, what unifies these works is the manner in which they are made and how they are meant to be seen.
Ranging from modern masters Philip Guston, Arshile Gorky, Roberto Matta, and H.C. Westermann, to rising young artists Rita Ackermann, Michael Kelly, Misaki Kawai, and Joseph Ayers, to self-taught clothing designer Bryan Bowie and skateboarding legend Neil Blender — the groupings in this show ask the viewer to reconsider and re-contextualize one’s notions of process and material.
Much as Gorky, Matta, Guston, and Westermann embraced change born out of political upheaval by breaking from the aesthetic canons of cubism, abstract expressionism, surrealism, and modernism, this show requires the viewer to look at the works of young artists through an updated lens of rebellion and rejection in order to reiterate how the subconscious and political are joined in the content and context of their art.
In Rita Ackermann’s work, immediacy is inherent as she exhibits a strong, even, controlled line in her drawing, and incorporates collage involving photocopies, book pages, torn paper, painted fabric, Plexiglas, and hardware. Ackermann’s work explores drawing and the uses of materials as well as considers what drawing is about – seeing multiple images and views overlapping to create a whole out of a fractured composite. In Michael Kelly’s work, immediacy is rejected in favor of a laborious process involving digital photography, costumes, and overhead projection — a modern day camera obscura approach to rendering his work on paper. The immediacy of Joseph Ayers work manifests itself in the artist’s intuitive approach. Ayers deals with subconscious mystery, in this case a nocturnal landscape viewed through the legs of a giant. Further skewing the viewer’s way of looking at his landscape, this large-scale work is rendered on two connecting pieces of paper simply enclosed in a rudimentary wooden frame.
The egalitarian context of this installation reiterates the urgency of the modern predecessors and the linear social relevance of the young contemporary artists inspired by them.