The New New is an exhibition of painting, drawing, mixed-media, and collage by six emerging artists from New York and Los Angeles: Ray Anthony Barrett, Aaron Fowler, Genevieve Gaignard, Tschabalala Self, Michael Shultis, and Jason Stopa. The works in this show are multi-dimensional, with some artists using heavy impasto, collage, or flirting with the intersection of painting and sculpture. Connecting the varied practices in The New New is an explicit use of text – song lyrics, art theory, slogans, and commercial branding - in a formally exciting interplay between word, image and painting.
Ray Anthony Barrett’s recent drawings take art historian and curator Darby English’s writing as a starting point. English was concerned with the nature of Black art (and what happens if and when Black artists stop making it). Barrett’s ink on paper drawings, such as STOP, use repeated text in alternating sequences to create provocative, thought-provoking statements.
Aaron Fowler weaves personal narrative into mythic allegory and often depicts himself as a Pilgrim traversing a post-apocalyptic landscape. In Aaron Fowler Looks For A Way Out of the City of Destruction, the artist incorporates materials as varied as glass doors, oatmeal, mirrors, CDs, clothing, and hair into an epic self-portrait at once imposing and fragile.
Genevieve Gaignard uses alter egos in often humorous self-portraiture to question our relationship to personae, identity, and popular culture. Her collage, Sister, Sister, pairs a vintage Playboy centerfold of a semi-nude model with a framed self-portrait. Gaignard explores “selfie” culture and its intersection with cultural norms and the fluid notions of femininity. Tschabalala Self is also interested in the depiction of the female body, and her mixed media painting STAR uses mannerist gestures to confront issues of black female identity.
Michael Shultis and Jason Stopa incorporate branding and popular culture into their practice. Michael Shultis’ Ja Ja, presents a pyramid of cheerleaders set against an inverted fast food sign. Shultis’ mixed media includes photo ink, Astrotuf and a discarded art crate that once housed a Frank Stella painting. Jason Stopa makes abstract paintings with representational references. His square paintings -- Four Straws and Tabs (Pepsi) -- refer also to junk food advertising as source material. Using oil, acrylic and enamel on canvas, he alternates thin, washy areas of paint with thickly painted sections to create illusionistic depth. These works conceptually combine the sensibilities of Pop, Abstract Expressionism and Abstract Illusionism.
The New New brings together emerging artists with distinct approaches – but all with a shared engagement with the aggregate of received imagery and personal narrative.