Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Announcing Morgan Bulkeley: New Work on view 5/25 through 7/10

Morgan Bulkeley, Faces in Breeze, 2010, oil on canvas, 40" x 48"

"In the end, the painting is an attempt to discover a place somewhere between laughter and despair, between joy and anxiety, a place that will be habitable, even restorative, once entered."
                                                                                                - Morgan Bulkeley

Howard Yezerski Gallery is proud to present an exhibition of new work by Morgan Bulkeley. Quirky and smart, the paintings playfully address critical issues in contemporary society. We peer into a world constructed by Bulkeley, where meanings are manifested in characters who interact and play out the imagined stories. Bulkeley taps into a technique of visual narrative that goes back to illuminated manuscripts in which objects interact like turns of phrase, each an index of a much larger idea. Writer Gregory Whitehead notes that Bulkeley "finds a way of figuring the human body that is drained of specificity, abstracted, yet also identifiably human... arriving at an aesthetic of figurative abstraction." The goofy humanoids are blank slates for the artist's fantastical and critical world. As such, the paintings are packed with meaning to dissect and discuss, mull over and discover.

The scenes play out over lush hills, a homage to his beloved Berkshires. Nature is the constant force behind the absurd matrix of human interactions. George Washington is in a frenzy while Donald Duck leads a man into a trap and people are hunted by deer. The hills are a stage, delineating spaces within the painting within which scenes occur - grasshoppers dance with bones, family members take cover from machine guns. A dialogue between nature and man develops as the wings of birds fit carefully up against the angles of a flying piece of paper or of the lines of a bow and arrow. Patterns emerge and the objects move from foreground to background and back again. Birds fly above and below - observing and moving on.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Going Beyond the Surface: Boston Globe Reviews Paul Shakespear and Karl Baden

Paul Shakespear, Pier, 2012, acrylic on canvas, 36" x 53"

"Painter Paul Shakespear experiments with the material properties of paint: how to achieve translucence? Depth? A stony surface? His show at Howard Yezerski Gallery features all these, sometimes juxtaposed in a single piece. The work has no narrative. There’s some mark making, but it’s subservient to the tactile quality of the surface of a painting, or its luminosity. It’s all about painting as object.
"Shakespear applies dozens of glazes to each canvas with a trowel, creating panels dense with color. Looking into them is like peering into a giant aquarium. In “Vault,” that aquarium would be filled with honey. The murky, rich panels in this four-square grid lighten along the edges and at corners. The piece’s rich sensuality is reined in only by its strict, modernist format.
"Pier” comprises three panels. The center, a vertical white column, is breathy in places, buttery in others. The panel on the left is gritty, rugged, with rough swipes of dark brown over a ground that resembles lichen-covered rock. The right, a deliciously glossy teal, shimmers like a swatch of silk. The two side panels play off each other — rough versus soft, defiantly opaque versus luminously shiny. The middle column cleanses the palate. Each panel is a world unto itself, and a place to spend time.
Karl Baden, 2008 Lexus 350, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012, archival inkjet print, 16" x 20"
"Yezerski has a second show, color photos by Karl Baden, that makes a comical pairing to Shakespear's contemplative canvases, but both have to do with surface and color, and suggest the experience of peering through glass.
"Baden’s bodacious photos were all shot from within a car, looking out. The windshield or windows function like movie screens; what’s going on outside seems larger than life. In “2008 Lexus 350, Cambridge, Massachusetts,” three women in eveningwear hurl accusations at each other, seemingly across the hood, as the car's dash glows an eerie blue. Closer investigation reveals the women are in an advertisement on the side of a passing bus; you can see a utility pole through the bus’s window at the top of the frame.
"Not all of the photos hinge on billboard ads, but they do portray a world outside the car that looks wild and big, making the car into a protective shell for the viewer, an extension of self. Which, of course, it is."
- Cate McQuaid
Globe Correspondent
May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Karl Baden: In and Out of the Car

Karl Baden: In and Out of the Car is now on view in the back room at the Howard Yezerski Gallery. These wacky photographs will pull you in and make you think - Which is flatter, a car window or a poster? What makes a camera turn an interior blue, but keeps the outside world true to reality? Come in and see for yourself.
2008 Lexus 350, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2012, archival inkjet print, 16" x 20"
Press Release:
Howard Yezerski Gallery is pleased to announce In and Out of the Car, an exhibition of five of Karl Baden's latest photographs. The series is an exploration of the signs, machines, and illusions of the world seen through his car window. The cockpit of an automobile is at the center of an increasingly complex and responsive sort of cell. The car is a membrane between inside and outside space. Normally static surfaces and textures of the interior compete fiercely for territory with the lumpy chaos of materials that make up life on the other side of the membrane.
Karl Baden, 2008 Lexus 350, Fresh Pond, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010, archival inkjet print, 16" x 20"
The window is a lens, a safe perimeter that frames and defines the limitless exterior world, flattening and reducing the spaces and places that we inhabit. Windows frame a landscape in continuous motion. People are everywhere, gesticulating, lugging shopping bags, pushing strollers, walking dogs, arguing, embracing; they make microsecond-long appearances in the windows of stores, cafes and other cars before they're sucked behind like exhaust. You drive on. Billboards and trucks cloaked in blinding ads fill your windows like cinemascope, then drop back to let the drama continue.
Karl Baden, 2010 Honda Accord, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010, archival inkjet print, 16" x 20"
Meanwhile, the radio plays, the CD pops out, the phone buzzes, the seat belt sign flashes, the directional blinks, the heat gauge goes up, the gas gauge goes down. The GPS slims down the landscape into information - "in 500 yards, turn left" - only the essential, in a crisp British accent. But just outside your bubble, the world descends. We see so much of the world through our metaphorical car windows - we access knowledge through the internet, and our friends through our iphones. Baden playfully addresses the impact of that glossy frame on our experience of the world around us.