Only in Los Angeles could a street artist and a television star team up for an art exhibition that is legitimately worth seeing.
The unlikely art show, called “Thanks For Nothing,” features miniatures and large scale paintings from street artist Judith Supine along with Alia Shawkat’s dark humored multimedia drawings. A biting electricity aligns the two disparate artists, whether a streak of neon in Supine’s tiny collages or a sarcastic commentary in Shawkat’s scrawled characters.
Supine’s series explores the hypnotic, even spiritual powers hidden in the banal aspects of contemporary American life. Supine, a street art scavenger who describes himself as “pastiche of lost and found,” combines sacred and profane aspects of American culture with little breathing room between. From cigarette boxes to lottery scratch cards, the weight of certain American staples becomes almost divine, if only for a short time, before the remains of are lost or discarded. Supine created over 80 miniature collages, using throwaway materials like dirty magazines and lotto tickets with grand ideas of race, sex and death.
The project space contains new work by Shawkat, a self-taught artist mostly known for her sense of humor onscreen. Shawkat’s caustic wit translates smoothly onto her frantically paced drawings, which combine acerbic squiggly narratives and flowing color washes. Harnessing universal human conditions of shame, rage and insecurity through bizarre and absurd channels, Shawkat proves that the more horrific a situation, the funnier it is.
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JUDITH SUPINE AND ALIA SHAWKAT | THANKS FOR NOTHING
Opening reception: September 14, 2013 | 8 – 11p
Show runs: September 14 – 28, 2013
441 North Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Known Gallery is proud to present Thanks for Nothing, an exhibition featuring new works by American artists Judith Supine and Alia Shawkat, curated by Naheed Simjee.
The exhibition will unveil more than eighty original miniatures by Judith Supine alongside six large-scale paintings. Constructed on a base of lottery scratch cards and Newport cigarette boxes, the mini collages are portraits of contemporary American society. Each lottery scratch card work presents a mash-up of sex, class, race, culture and economy, epitomized by the ritual of the lottery. Decorative patterning and linework harks back to engravings and woodcuts by Supine and his “art gods” – the likes of Albrecht Dürer and Leanard Baskin – transported to the 21st century by an upbeat tempo of reverberating color. His cigarette box works are reminiscent of the Surrealist movement’s “exquisite corpse” – and like the name these elicit imagery like death, BDSM and other fetishisms.
Supine’s move to miniature offers an in-focus intimacy with the artist. Their proximity invites the viewer to hone in on the intricate craft of cutting, folding and juxtaposing visual triggers unearthed in a treasure trove of art books, sleazy magazines, candy packaging, phone cards, cigarette boxes and blunt wrappers. Through his technique of free association, Supine transforms his magpie collection into a tightly rendered depiction of collective consciousness: a stream of critique and reflection on a milieu that Supine sees as The Hunger Games meets the dichotomy between the sacred and the profane. His organic approach to art-making turns each lotto ticket or matchbox into a sandbox for the subconscious mind, and each androgynous brainchild an immediate expression of the sensation of a closeness to God.
Supine’s paintings on show, measuring 2.5 by 3.5 feet and upwards, reference six of his original collages. The tiny portraits are made larger than life through scale and psychedelic neon acrylics, vibrating against detailed linework. Totemistic in their opulent, hypnotic presence, they are demigods from a parallel universe.
Thanks for Nothing is Judith Supine’s third solo exhibition in as many years, a testament to his palpable force as an artist on the edge of contemporary postmodern art.
Running concurrently to Supine’s show, Alia Shawkat’s latest multimedia drawings in color will be on display in the Project Room. Shawkat’s work is a comedic commentary on life, portraying a mix of humorous and absurd characters and situations that seem to say, “We’re all in this together… but don’t we look stupid doing it.” Drawing on Shawkat’s acting experience, her artworks have the quality of mise-en-scène, with each character and its props carefully constructed around a visual theme that tells a tale of a sardonic or satirical nature.
Shawkat’s new work incorporates haphazard scrawls and color washes that verge on abstraction, while a combination of both hidden and overt characters hold true to her dark form of narrative. Others works vary in style, drawing on genres as diverse as cubism and comic strips. With this exhibition she aims to change the perception of what going to an art show could be.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Headlining artist: Judith Supine
Judith Supine is an American artist known for his surrealistic, tongue-in-cheek work in collage and prior to that his outdoor art – perhaps most notoriously a monstrous fifty-foot green figure hung off the Manhattan Bridge in 2007. After a torrid love affair with the illegal nature and outside stature of street art, Supine switched his focus to an indoor arena, and since 2008 has held four solo exhibitions and participated in twenty-three group shows. He has converted entire galleries with his resin-coated neon pastiches (Ladyboy (2011) at New Image Art Gallery, Los Angeles) and large-scale portraits (Too Much For One Man (2012) at Jonathan LeVine, New York), most of which combine original and reproduced collage and painting on panel. Supine’s first solo exhibition (Dirt Mansion (2008) at the English Kills Gallery, Brooklyn) converted a warehouse in Bushwick into a three-dimensional walk-in art installation, setting the bar high for his exhibitions to follow. His latest series of work, Thanks for Nothing, does another 360, from immersive, floor-to-ceiling takeovers to miniature versions of his signature mashup portrait collages – a return to what Supine sees as the most enjoyable and creative part of his artistic process. As for his outdoor art, Supine has far from abandoned his guerilla tactics and more outdoor sculpture is on the horizon.
Judith Supine is a moniker derived from the artist’s mother’s maiden name, while at the same time being a reference to religion and the history of art. Supine grew up in Portsmouth, Virginia, in a household in which creativity was encouraged. An inherent introvert, Supine did not speak until the age of 17. Instead, he expressed himself through collage and drawing, and was allowed to draw and paint all over his childhood house. Since leaving home at 18 he has moved between Amsterdam, London and Virginia, continuing in much the same manner.
Project Room: Alia Shawkat
Alia Shawkat is a self-taught artist, musician and actress. While she has been drawing all of her life, sharing her work in a public, commercial space is new for the artist, albeit a natural progression for her. A well-rounded creative talent, Shawkat’s career has thus far focused on acting, and she is best known for her roles in television show Arrested Development, Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut Whip It! and indie films The Oranges and That’s What She Said. She is also a jazz singer and an aspiring animator for television and comic books.
As an artist her work has been featured in Juxtapoz magazine and at Vice Gallery. When drawing she works primarily in ink, Copic pen and oil pastel. She has also dabbled in collage and oil on canvas, and is excited by exploring new mediums.
Shawkat draws her subject matter from real life and the subconscious, depicting “weird moments” from social situations and performances, often with human embarrassment at its crux. Her latest work continues in this theme, while experimenting with levels of abstraction and a variety of techniques.
Shawkat was born in Palm Springs, California in 1989 and currently lives in Los Angeles, where she has her studio. See more of her work at mutantalia.com.
Ecstatic and unflagging, CAConrad is a poet of singular verve. His exercise approaches the tenor of mystic rite—no shambling rote, no sir—and the verse it bears forth raises upon loci of torment a worldly oratory to the extraordinary ordinary, to the flawed and failing and dear.
Judith Supine, I Was a Widow, 2011, acrylic, collage, varnish, resin on pine wood, 48×36 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
for Erica Kaufman
Wash a penny, rinse it, slip it under your tongue, and walk out the door. Copper is the metal of Aphrodite, never ever forget this, never, don’t forget it, ever. Drink a little orange juice outside and let some of the juice rest in your mouth with the penny. Oranges are the fruit of Aphrodite, and she is the goddess of Love, but not fidelity. Go somewhere, go, get going with your penny and juice. Where do you want to sit? Find it, and sit there.
What is the best Love you’ve ever had in this world? Be quiet while thinking about that Love. If someone comes along and starts talking, quietly shoo them away, you’re busy, you’re a poet with a penny in your mouth, idle chitchat is not your friend. Be quiet so quiet, let the very sounds of that Love be heard in your bones. After a little while take the penny out of your mouth and place it on the top of your head. Balance it there and sit still a little while, for you are now moving your own forces quietly about in your stillness. Now get your pen and paper and write about POVERTY, write line after line about starvation and deprivation from the voice of one who has been Loved in this world.