Crown Point Press announces Invention/Tradition, an exhibition of prints by artists who merge traditional subject matter with a contemporary focus. Although the artists differ in generation and nationality, they share a desire to mine classic themes from art, culture, religion, and folk art. The exhibition offers a view of how each of the eight artists transports time-honored themes into the present.
The exhibition introduces Edgar Bryan, a young painter from Los Angeles, who used his first visit to the Crown Point studio in May 2008 for a playful exploration of painting’s historic themes: the still life, the female nude, and self-portraiture. In Bryan’s recent paintings, as in this new group of prints, there are resemblances to famed painters of the past, Morandi and Poussin for example. However, he updates their traditions with a sense of humor, a casual style, and an odd palette of lavenders, grays and purples. As Roberta Smith in the New York Times noted, this approach is “more 1950s Los Angeles than French Academy in Rome.” Bryan’s three new color prints are titled The Surrealist, Moonshine, and Model Defending Jugs.
Swedish artist Jockum Nordström draws his inspiration from the folk characters of his native country. Nordström’s work is often compared to outsider and folk art, but his compositions are exact and sophisticated. Turn-of-the-century sailors, statesmen, and schoolteachers appear as body parts and headless figures as they drift casually through contemporary interiors and landscapes. As one reviewer put it, “Past and present are one, and the subconscious is present.” Nordström works primarily on paper; graphite, watercolor, and collage are his predominant forms of expression. His collage techniques adapted easily to the etching process during his first project in the Crown Point studio in January 2008. Nordström referred to the etching process as a “new way of seeing.”
Katsura Funakoshi, a Japanese sculptor, culls inspiration from traditional elements of his culture. Funakoshi represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 1988. He reveres traditional temple carvings, and carves his figurative sculptures from camphor wood, then rubs color into the fine cracks. The figures are carved in persuasive detail and usually are portraits displaying the subjects from the waist up. They are unmistakably contemporary in attitude and dress. In the black and white etching titled At a Grand Hall in the Forest, a single figure is portrayed in three-quarter view. Although the figure is turned towards us, it does not catch our gaze, but has the meditative qualities of a Shinto god.
Also included in the exhibition are prints by Francesco Clemente, Peter Doig, Laura Owens, Wilson Shieh, and Shahzia Sikander.