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SNAP SHOT: Birgir Andrésson, Allan McCollum, Jan van Munster and Anonymous Mug Shot Photographers    Nov 7, 2008 - Jan 31, 2009

SNAP-SHOT
Birgir Andresson
SNAP-SHOT, 2006
 
William C. Briggs
Anonymous Mug Shot Photographers
William C. Briggs, 1941
 
Perfect Vehicle
Allan McCollum
Perfect Vehicle, 1988
 
Round Square
Jan van Munster
Round Square, 1986
 
  
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Quint Contemporary Art is pleased to present work by Birgir Andresson, Allan McCollum, Jan van Munster and a group of Mug Shot photographs by Anonymous Photographers.

Birgir Andrésson (b. 1955 - d.2007) The exhibition will feature one of the artist’s wall installations from a series entitled Icelandic Colors. Born in the Westmann Islands in 1955, Andrésson went on to study visual arts at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts and then received a graduate degree from the Jan Van Eyck Akademie in Maastricht in Holland.

Andrésson was especially preoccupied in his work with spoken language, and the communication of visual perception, which he explored through text portraits, drawings, wall installations and three-dimensional constructions. The ‘Icelandic Colours’ are one of the strangest and most contradictory subjects in Andresson’s art and, like so many of his themes, they turn up again and again in different contexts. In his text-paintings the text appears on a solid field of color which is identified in a caption in the corner: “Colours: Icelandic Pantone 173, Icelandic Pantone 533.” To begin with this was perhaps just characteristic irony, making fun of pseudo-national trends in interior decoration. Later, however, these colors became a sort of signature that Andresson could use to put his mark on almost any subject he chose.

They came to function much like the pre-made stamps the Fluxus artists created and used to connect their eclectic assemblages and notes. But Andresson’s Icelandic Colours also reflected his genuine interest and thorough research into colors and their significance in every context. This past fall, Andrésson was nominated for the Icelandic Visual Arts Awards for the retrospective exhibition of his work at the National Gallery. One of Iceland’s most respected visual artists, Birgir Andrésson, died on October 24, 2007 at the age of 52.

Allan McCollum (b. 1944) The exhibition will showcase one of McCollum’s Perfect Vehicles. Born in Los Angeles, California, McCollum went on to travel and live abroad in England before returning to Venice, California where he came to age as an artist during the height of Minimalism. He now resides in New York City. McCollum is best know for utilizing the methods of mass production in his work in many different ways, often generating thousands of objects, while produced in large quantity, are each unique. The artist has had over 100 solo exhibitions, including retrospectives at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lille, France (1998); the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany (1995-96); the Serpentine Gallery, London (1990).

McCollum began making the first works in his Perfect Vehicles series in 1985, presenting and re-presenting an iconic sculptural form in order to investigate the ways in which a single object can contain cultural meaning. All of the Perfect Vehicle sculptures bear the same shape—that of a Chinese ginger jar, a traditional vessel that has been extensively copied and reproduced for centuries. McCollum’s earliest works in the Perfect Vehicles series were just over a foot-and-a- half tall, and in 1988 he scaled them up to just over six-and-a-half-feet tall. The Perfect Vehicles are always thickly painted in a different hue of commercially available acrylic latex paint; the works here are black, red, and metallic gold, a majestic trio of colors that fittingly evokes traditional Chinese color schemes. Made of cast glass-fiber-reinforced concrete, they have no opening, utterly eliminating the typical use-value that one might expect of a vase. Presented singly or in groups, McCollum’s Perfect Vehicles invite a range of associations: they look like something you might find in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Asian Art department or in the storefront windows of Tiffany & Co., but they could also be behemoth chess pieces or cartoon abstractions of an English bobby.

McCollum describes the Perfect Vehicles as “an homage to the idea of one thing standing for another”— and become a celebration of the way that we look for meaning in the objects that surround us, and then uses them as vehicles to express our own ideas. “I think there’s something very magical about the way we express one thing ‘through’ another thing…our competence in doing this is fraught with risks, as well. It’s a specifically human dilemma.”

Jan van Munster (b. 1939) The exhibition will feature a neon light piece by the artist, who is originally from the Netherlands. In 1991, van Munster came to La Jolla to do a residency with Quint Krichman Projects. Up until 1990, he was a lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts and Design, Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. His works have been shown all over the world, and in 2003, the government of the Netherlands awarded him with the Wilhelmina-ring, the Dutch oeuvre prize for sculpture.

The key theme in the artist’s work, which can be summed up in a single concept, energy, has basically remained the same. Van Munster views energy as a universal, primeval force, on which all phenomena are founded. Energy is for van Munster both the theme and the material. The tension that is created through oppositions such as light/dark, attraction/repulsion, beauty/danger, and plus/minus is the subject of many of his works. His process is that of more towards less, of the realization of a theme that is becoming more and more manifest in the artist’s effort to get closer to the essence. Within this process there are continual cross-references, with numerous links being made between the works form different periods. The works do not present pre-formulated messages; instead, they promote multifaceted experiences that leave viewers a correspondingly large amount of room for interpretation.

Anonymous Mug Shot Photographers This exhibition will feature 20 vintage mug shot photographs from the 1940’s. The selection demonstrates that mug shots, taken under duress, can be as full of truth and beauty as more cooperative masterpieces of studio portraiture. We are drawn to the photographs by their undeniable authenticity. In this day of flickering instantaneous images and photo manipulation software, the mugs stare back as rare artifacts.

“Hookers, stooges, grifters and goons. Punks, sneaks, mooks and miscreants. Men and women. Elderly and adolescent. Rich and poor. Mostly poor. (The mug shots are) a poetic encyclopedia of discarded portraits set free from the steel file drawers of police departments and prisons. Created as utilitarian instruments, they survive as extraordinary visual artifacts. Bored, sheepish, proud, coy, tough, defiant, bounced, and bruised. Innocent-until-proven-guilty faces that stare back at the camera with unmistakable individuality. They are physical photographs, often accompanied by municipal ephemera, attached to cards and documents. Typewritten and rubber stamped. Measured and fingerprinted. Documented and classified. A century of American social history, filed and forgotten.” – Mark Michaelson excerpt from Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots

The exhibition will run through December 27th, 2008.

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