Paul DeMuro, Cliff Evans, Dan Hays, Michel Huelin, Leslie Thornton
15 March– 27 April, 2012
The representation of nature acts to replace « the open window on the world » --- which has been the veduta of the painters for the past 4 centuries. Today, the computer screen, with its connected networks and internet websites, does the same. But, painting has not disappeared, rather, it withdrew ; whether it remained on the surface of the canvas as a medium, or it acquired a virtual and dematerialized dimension. Techno Nature showcases 5 « points of view » --- going from the canvas to the screen, or vice versa.
Using low-resolution images of landscapes gleaned from the Internet, Dan Hays constructs paintings with connections to the history of landscape painting, (even if not explicit), and in turn presents a paradoxical visual realm where immaterial pixels and physical brushstrokes coalesce. His work speaks to how accustomed we’ve become to living with or seeing screens, and also how alarming and disheartening that is. « Not just in the cinema or living room, but on mobile telephones, advertising hoardings and computer interfaces, the hi-tech screen threatens to mask an elemental experience of the world with a transparent optical illusion ». Shown to be a latent quality of any fugitive frame of YouTube video or traffic webcam, these images tend towards abstraction, suggesting a broader sense of longing for something lost.
The new series Binoculars by Leslie Thornton also shows a tendency towards abstraction. Thornton intersects nature and technology---the work consists of flat screen monitors where two circular fields appear on each : on the left, images of animals – birds, reptiles, fish, some exotic, others familiar – filmed in the wild, and on the right, the image is folded back on itself in a centripetal pattern, reminiscent of a kaleidoscope. The two circular fields are intimately connected. The effect is unexpected and profound. Nature is not subsumed, circumscribed or contained but the space of otherness traced in the image of the animals is filled by an abstract artificiality, transporting the viewer into a world prior to language.
Michel Huelin deals with the concept of a transformed, alienated nature, with manipulation and mutation. In a series of Lambda prints and videos he presents digital creations of a virtual biotope (or Phytotron) in which the elements complement and nurture each other. The viewer plunges in a fictious ecosystem, a jungle of hybrid objects half familiar half alien. En découvrant ce monde sans échelle, l’œil prospecte, pris entre plaisir et vertige, bulles et explosions, épouse transparences et distorsions. « To a certain extent, Huelin explains, I simulate a possible evolution of living and inert matter by changing a number of numerical parameters that determine the reactions between the virtual elements and their fictive environment. »
Cliff Evans gives the human figure a central position in landscape. His video is made as if a conveyor belt working in a loop, a kaleidoscopic photomontage animation of images edited into a VistaVision-wide phantasmagoria : Movie stars, logos, religious icons, the military, etc…. showing a society obsessed with the cult of the body in a techno-fetishistic way. The viewer is surrounded by an epic vision that both horrifies and amuses, as a commentary on the American trend. The images feel familiar, but if you try to place them, they’re elusive. Images are treated almost like found objects, obtained from the Internet. They are cut up as if they were coming from the Brion Gysin’s Dream Machine and scrambled, scene after scene, with deliberate order and disquieting disorder ultimately finding a perfect fit in the puzzle.
Paul DeMuro’s new paintings utilize a computer or even a cell phone to change the image on the screen into its photographic inverse. By using color that is removed from intuition and then translating into physical, thick, sculptural oil paint, he attempts to deal with this specific moment in the relationship between the human hand and the machine : « Would it not be hard to imagine the day when a program will arrive that makes your posts, pics, tweets, likes, etc. into a repeating algorithm, thus making your personality, persona and identity go on into the foreseeable future, long after your body dies and rots away ? »
Dan Hays (born 1966. He lives in London) Since graduating from Goldsmith College in 1990, he was the winner of the John Moores Prize for Painting (1997). Selected shows: 2011 LobeScreen as Landscape, Contemporary Art Research Center, Kingston University – 2011 Dan Hays, Peter Klare, LoBe Berlin - 2009 Failing Light, Zürcher Studio, New York, NY – 2008 End Game — British Contemporary Art from the Chaney Family Collection, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – 2007 In Monet’s Garden – The Lure of Giverny, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, USA; Musée Marmottan, Paris. He is represented by Zürcher, Paris / New York.
Michel Huelin (born 1962. He lives in Geneva). After studying Natural Science, he graduated from the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Visuels of Geneva (1988). Selected shows: 2011 Blancpain art contemporain, Geneva – 2010 Alkyd & Pixels, Galerie Zürcher, Paris – 2009 Phytotron, Fabian & Claude Walter Gallery Zürich – Uncontrolled Growth II, Zürcher Studio, New York – 2008 Floating Device, Museum of Contemporary Art, Cleveland; Uncontrolled Growth, Zürcher Studio, New York, NY. He is represented by Zürcher, Paris / New York.
Leslie Thornton (born 1951, she lives in New York, NY) 2011 Winkleman Gallery, New York, NY – 2010 Decalogue: Films You Can Count on Two Hands. Leslie Thornton’s film and media works have been exhibited across the world, in venues including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney Biennial Exhibition; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Rotterdam International Film Festival; New York Film Festival; CAPCMusée, Bordeaux; Pacific Film Archives, Berkeley; and festivals in Oberhausen, Graz, Mannheim, Berlin, Austin, Toronto, Tokyo and Seoul, among many others. She is represented by Winkelman Gallery, NY.
Paul DeMuro (born 1981, he lives in Brooklyn, NY) was raised in Philadelphia. He grew up Catholic in a row house by four different cemeteries, and received his MFA in Painting from Rutgers University in 2010. DeMuro has recently been included in group exhibitions at Jolie Laide, Columbia University, Harlem Workspace Gallery, and Lauren Luloff’s loft. He currently holds a Chashama studio residency in New York.
Cliff Evans (born 1977, he lives in Brooklyn, NY) He graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he was recently visiting faculty in video arts. Exhibited extensively throughout the United States and the world, Evans’ work has been shown in such spaces as The New Museum, Chelsea Art Museum, and Location One in New York City; The Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Krannert Art Museum in Champaign, Illinois; the Haggerty Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Orange County Museum of Art in Newport Beach, California; Laboratorio Arte Alameda in Mexico City, Mexico; Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland; and the China International Gallery Exposition, China World Trade Center in Beijing, China. His work is represented by Stephan Stoyanov Gallery, New York, NY.