Robert Adams, Richard Aldrich, Forrest Bess, Katherine Bradford, Nick Cave
Christofer Churchill, Verne Dawson, Tom Friedman, Keith Haring, Andrea Joyce Heimer
JPW3, Mike Kelley, Agnes Martin, John McCracken, Ken Price, Ed Ruscha
Jim Shaw, Charles Green Shaw, Julius Shulman
Franklin Parrasch Gallery is pleased to announce Get Outta That Spaceship and Fight Like a Man, an exhibition of works by nineteen twentieth century and contemporary artists who in various media explore the impulse to have faith or potential belief in the existence of extraterrestrial life. The artists presented probe the instinctual sense of yearning to accept that intelligent life may exist elsewhere while highlighting our fractured states of faith in essential belief systems. The fight or flight instinct Ed Ruscha dramatized in his 1982 drawing from which this show derives its title – the phrase “Get Outta That Spaceship and Fight Like a Man” – responds to the humorously futile directive of authority and the instinct to defend both human life and territory from a potential alien invader.
Several of the artists in this show have consistently and intensely delved into investigations of extraterrestrial life forms throughout their careers. A reflective plank by John McCracken, entitled UFO (2002), manifests this artist’s career-long obsession with the existence of UFOs and unfamiliar dimensions. Keith Haring, represented here by an early subway drawing, developed iconographic depictions of space aliens and flying saucers that are ubiquitous throughout his graffiti and studio work of the late 1970s and 1980s. The text-based works of Richard Aldrich engage viewers’ connections to UFOs, invoking thoughts of experiences or encounters, without depicting either. Katherine Bradford, on the other hand, often depicts encounters with both flying saucers and alien life forms – in this case, the iconic fictive pop culture hero alien Superman – that inhabit surreal nocturnal landscapes.
The earliest examples in this show: midcentury works by Agnes Martin, Charles Shaw, and Forrest Bess, reference forms that are in many ways consistent with images found in non-Western cultures which are themselves purported to depict extraterrestrial sightings. Bess, for example, wrote about his psychotically induced visions having connections to the imagery and beliefs of Australian Aboriginal cultures.
At its core, this exhibition addresses issues of perception, the healthy inclination toward skepticism, and the conundrum of veracity. In his 1958 book “Flying Saucers,” Carl Jung ruminates on the phenomenon of post-WWII UFO sightings, addressing the nature of visual understanding: psychic versus ocular reception of visual experience and how the mind interprets new and unverified information. Likewise, the works in this show are less about UFOs and extraterrestrial life forms and more about the experience of expressing a vision of something the existence of which has not collectively been agreed upon.
We wish to thank the following for their collegial assistance with this project: Bortolami, CANADA, Elkon Gallery, Fraenkel Gallery, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Jack Shainman Gallery, Luhring Augustine, Martos Gallery, Nicelle Beauchene Gallery, Simon Lee Gallery, and Taylor|Graham.
Get Outta That Spaceship and Fight Like a Man will be on view at Franklin Parrasch Gallery, 53 East 64 Street, New York, from September 9—October 21, 2017, with an opening reception taking place on September 9 from 6-8p. For images, biographies, and further information, please contact Katharine Overgaard at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 212-246-5360 during business hours: 10a-6p, Tuesday-Saturday.