During the month of July, Rena Bransten Gallery (77 Geary Street at Grant, San Francisco, CA) is presenting a group show titled Decline and Fall. Artworks in Decline and Fall seek to describe how obsession or over-indulgence on one end can lead to over-exposure, degradation, or rot and ruin at the other. The title suggests a narrative progression, but works in this exhibit were selected for their representations of both “ends” rather than supplying viewers with “the means” to connect the dots. The complex histories and broader issues in between may be imagined and pondered by viewers.
Some of the featured artists and works are:
Andrew Moore’s photograph Peter the Great and BMW (Old Sculptor’s Studio) shows a BMW on blocks stored next to a partial monument of the tsar and his horse – an image that captures not only social change but how art and architecture have been adapted to accommodate it.
Fred Wilson’s Bust reflects a similar cultural course; his tiny black pharaoh head sits between the white shoulders of a classic Greek torso – a top to bottom switch in world domination.
Joseph Park’s painting Leave it on the dance floor captures the fury and passion of the rape of the Sabine women – countless fallen virtues, among other things.
Doug Hall, Candida Höfer, and John Waters’ photographs show more literal declines – museums full of relics, old homes that have become museums, and old human skin turned to wrinkles. Similarly, Bing Wright enlarges the fall and fade of a rose bloom with petals scattered while Martin Klimas catches a romantic doves & roses statuette as it shatters into flying porcelain fragments.
Single signifiers are seen in works by William T. Wiley, Marci Washington, and Ian MacDonald; a prison, a ghost, a leonine power symbol serve as conduits to unknown histories and larger social issues.
Deborah Oropallo’s Repunzel uses images of female models from the internet merged with fops and frippery from 17th century European portrait paintings to challenge social, sexual, and political hierarchies past and present. Toppling old notions allow new visions and power structures to emerge.
Vik Muniz’ Tower of Babel uses puzzle pieces to recreate the cautionary tale of man’s hubris and God’s punishment. The tower built to elevate man to God’s level precipitated the shattering of mankind into different races and tongues.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday 10:30AM to 5:30PM and Saturday 11:00AM to 5PM.