• Road Trip(ping): Psychogeografik

    PRESS RELEASE: Fine Art Complex 1101 is proud to present Road Trip(ping) and Psychogeografik, a two part show taking place in Tempe and Germany in 2019. A special thank you to Marcus Sendlinger at RAE Space for Contemporary Art and the Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, Germany, and the Poolhaus-Blankenese foundation, Hamburg, Germany, for supporting all the hard work going into this international exchange! 
    First venue: Road Trip(ping, Fine Art Complex 1101Opening Reception: Feb 16th, 2019Show runs: Feb 16-Feb 22nd 
    Second venue: Psychogeografik, RAE space for contemporary art Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany, Opening Reception: Saturday May 4th.Show runs: May 4th-19th

    Road Trip(ping) / The Psychogeografik
    “Whereas the beat generation went out on the road, and the counter-culture went tripping on inner experience… it’s most likely going to be the growing changes in the earth that might ‘trip’ the final counter-culture revolution; the revolution of the earth against our culture.” - Timothy Leary

    The road trip is psychogeography. Detournment has become Destination Art. Global commerce is the horizon against which art production must now contend. Psychogeografik is the technique for rending these realities visible. We are a generation of defacto-Debordians.

    But what can help us to get a sense of how this is the case today? Whether through the play of simultaneity and symbol in the art of Rossitza L. Todorova; the deconstructed images of local and global forces in the works of Estrella Payton; the mixture of free association journaling and digital mapping in the works of Lillian Morrissey; the haunting records of geographic erosion by Jonathan Marquis; the space that political memory marks out in the real-time imagery of Conor Elliott Fitzgerald; the conflict between constructed and naturalistic spaces in the multi-media works of Travis Ivey; the subtle sense of private narratives accorded to suburban life in the paintings of Cam DeCaussin; the fusion of figure and environment in the works of Abbey Messmer; the juxtaposition of the figural against the infinite horizons of our life-world in the works of Megan Berner; and the repurposing of waste as a new kind of socio-politico aesthetic in the imagery of Emily Ritter; we find that all of these works are implicated in the new logic of psychogeografik experience. It is the diversity of these kinds of artistic investigations that this "call and response" edition of Road Trip: Psychogeografik attempts to map.

    What we can say is that wherever the mind and an expanded definition of place intersect --- or aesthetics and the expanded field of site-specificity collide --- we find the valences of the psychografik at work. In this case, the grafik here refers to the repurposing of memes, themes and dreams, while the psychological refers to the collective, the ecological and the political unconscious. Between the two terms, (psycho/grafik), stands what remains of our subjectivity, like a terse line that can no longer properly demarcate the thought-image of space from the affective feeling of habitation. As such, the psychogeografik is something of a strategy that splits the difference, making our current socio-psychological realities visible while asking questions about the future of how our psychology will fare against the changing conditions of the geosphere writ large. 
    Artists in the show: Marcus Sendlinger, Rossitza Todorova, Estrella Payton, Jonathan Marquis, Conor Elliott Fitzgerald, Emily Ritter, Travis Ivey, Cam DeCaussin, Abbey Messmer, Megan Berner, and Lilian Morrissey.

  • Expulsion: Painting as Proxy Act and Action


    One can be expelled for plagiarism, for breaking rules, for unusual behavior and for nearly anything that the reigning authorities find contemptible. In the art world this could be critics, institutions, or the general public. Even painting itself became an object of contempt during the 60s and 70s when it was largely declared to be a "dead" medium. Its most recent rap on the knuckles came in the wake of zombie formalism, when the artworld decided that a certain kind of made-to-order, or made-too-easily formalism, came to prominence in the marketplace almost overnight due to the precarious practice of "art-flipping" --- something that was a highly speculative practice at best. This school of "drop-cloth" abstraction was quickly expelled from any place of enduring relevance in what was the largest quantifiable loss of auction house value in the early 21st century. It constituted nothing short of a radical expulsion of value, form, and gesture (mis)taken for content. 

    Nevertheless, painting has continued on in different states, re-inventing itself with each new decade, usually under the guise of so many “returns”, be it under the moniker of "a return to figuration", "a return of the real", "a return of beauty", etc. Or, sometimes painting sneaks into the limelight through the auspicious use of so many neo’s, such as neo-dada, neo-expressionism, neo-geo, etc. But what continues to define painting beyond these various programs and strategies is the many different ways that it can be both an object by proxy, creating other realities into which the imagination can venture, or that it's surfaces can rely on creating an impact on the viewer through acts or actions, placing a decided emphasis on paintings tactile and affective qualities in order to elicit a response. It goes without saying that much of the best painting today and historically, is often some amalgam of these two approaches.



    Nevertheless, it is between these two poles that the debate about painting --- both figurative and abstract --- has continued on for more than a century, with one side favoring the optical qualities of the medium while other side favors painting's potential to act on our senses as a uniquely haptic experience. For most of the 20th century, being in one camp or the other could result in being expelled from the reigning zeitgeist. The figures that worked in the inbetween spaces however, like Phillip Guston, Joan Brown and Lydia Benglis, all ran the risk of having their career run out of town by the critics at one time or another, or simply exiled from relevance and cannoization forever. It's no exaggeration to say that, at certian times in the past, there have been artists who found themselves living under the constant threat of expulsion because of a dramatic shift in content or method. 

    Eventually this ethos broke however, and painting was expelled from the dictates of "high modernism" and the equally critical era of "high theory" that punctuated the end of postmodernism. Painting today continues to flourish by way of its alliance to a kind of permanent disobedience. In fact, a short list of expulsions is the only thing that gives us a sense of the space of painting's changing commitments: first, painting was expelled from "standard formats" at the end of modernism; than it was thrown out from "the wall" during much of postmodernism, often spilling out onto the flooring and pushing up against institutional confines; with the passing of time, painting even ventured further away from purely painterly qualities vis-a-via the many sculptural propositions that were incorporated into painting practices during late postmodernism; and finally, painting was expelled from the strict confines of "medium specificity" to freely mix with other genres; and so painting began to venture out into the world at large through site-specific projects, hyper-textual references, and cross-disciplinary practices during the contemporary period, i.e., the era of high pluralism. This is the short history of paintings violations, infractions, and revolutions, all of which have no implicit teleology save a vast and growing diversity of memes and themes. 



    As a result of this short genealogy of painting in the expanded field, we can say that painting takes its place in the world as an object of emblematic identifications unknown. It is that sublime endeavor which stopped serving the academy so long ago that it barley knows how to identify with authority, despite what many critics might have you believe. Painting no longer courts the term “high art” anymore than its competing genres, and it is rarely accompanied by manifesto’s, the establishment of new ism’s, or even a foundational sense of the supposed limits of the medium. If anything, painting is now a thoroughly delimited object of inquiry.

    Another way of saying the same thing is that painting has finally been thrown out of the artworld so many times, that its status might best be described as a series of repeated “expulsions” from different critical frameworks and epistemes, and it might be that this rather vexed state of affairs is actually what gives painting an enduring purchase in the present. Thus, the works on display in Expulsion: Painting as Proxy Act and Action are not visual expositions in any traditional sense, but rather, they play with the notion of an "aesthetic of explusion" that might best be defined as what circumscribes the ever expanding world of sense-making after paintings many misadventures in 19th and 20th centuries.

    Artists in the Show: Michael Diaz, Chris Kuhn, Caroline Hubbell, Ryan Eckert, Megan Johnson, Thomas Knight, Larry Madrigal, Brandi Read, Chloe Torri, Mary Williams, Lester Monzon, Rema Ghuloum, Sarah Awad and Jacob Melchi.

  • Cosmogyny


    It seems as if there has always has been a belief in two worlds, that of the seen and the unseen, of the visible and the invisible, of the known and of the occult. But contrary to the subversive overtones that are used to conceal worlds of experience beyond that of everyday consciousness, occultation simple means “hidden”. It is not, by necessity, a nefarious or otherwise dubious connotation, to say that something is simply concealed. Quite the opposite in fact. For those artistic initiates and creative seekers who want to go into realms heretofore unexplored, the term occult alludes to any process that allows something which was previously obscured to be brought out into the light of understanding, or of re-evalation posited as a revelation. In this way, occultation is very close to what the esoteric writings of Martin Heidegger called the ontological-primordial play of concealing and revealing, or of bringing something "into the light" in two distinct senses, i.e., of things revealed in both the outer and inner worlds of experience.



    We can also find many ways in which the notions of cosmology and cosmogyny are intertwined in the twofold conundrum of ontic and ontological experience. Afterall, many of the great occult traditions share a singular notion about the "Ontos", which is that of “the sacred marriage”, or of having traits of both the male and the female in oneself as the ground of being prior to any division, be it biological, cultural, etc. Sometimes this “sacred marriage” is called the “transmutation of the elements” in alchemy; the going-under of “dark night of the soul” in psychology; the discovery of “the philosopher's stone” in philosophy; and so many other names throughout the world's many esotic traditions. Cosmology and cosmogyny might also be viewed as one such dichotomy, placed somewhere between representing the "generative" and "gestational" principalities that are always already married within all creative acts. Afterall, both of these "genus" conditions are still being theorized today in relations to all of existence, without either term holding any sense of primacy. 



    In other words, the fusion of opposites which is often characterized as the "supreme occulted truth", or really as an occulted axiom that aims to overcome the originary division of forms, is itself, something that is paraded around as the highest grade of the mason, the guru, the magnus, and the master who has "attained" the deepest of non-dual insights. But today, science too is after the truth of what brought the universe into being before dualism. By contrast with the ritual and material practices associated with the occult arts, we can say that all outward, exteriorized, or reified dogmatic truths focus on the opposite goal, i.e., that of heightening the antagonism of identifications associated with good and evil, light and dark, and difference as-such. This is what caused both Nietzsche and Crowley to condemn modern reigion as the birthplace of "herd morality", "reactive consciousness" and the inversion of life affirming values. 



    But where is this most obviously on display in our culture today? Sadly, it is in the larger than life mythos created by misogyny, for which Cosmogyny could offer a much needed corrective. Even our modern religions still seem to miss these rather obvious exclusions and hierarchies in having created a series of godheads who are often absent any female counterpart, be it Yaweh, Allah, Buddha, etc. The symbolic crime here is that such cosmologies lack any gestative element in their allegories of creation. Everything is created ex nihlo, and comes to frution without growth, care, and sustantive support in the worlds major religions. This makes them all-or-nothing religions, or "all-is-One" systems of belief without any remainder, suppliment, or sense of self-othering. They are monism positied as a kind of absolutism. The ancients however, rarely made this same mistake. They tried to keep extreme misogyny somewhat separate from cosmology. In fact, in many of the pre-modern traditions the gods tended to be many, plural, and even diverse in their interests within the same cosmological constallation.



    The uncanny parallel here with the rise of modern art and modern monotheism is that both belief systems became essentialist, acting in a neo-fudamentalist manner by eliminating everything but “the truth to materials” and the “truth of the (bibilical) text”; the rhetoric of “purity” and the rhetorical devices of religious conversion; the teleological drive toward flatness and the flattening out of all the gods into the one “Father who art in heaven...". Of course, Freud had already noted this tendency in his book Moses and Monotheism, which is to say that creative story-telling has underwrit the whole of modern culture... religion included. Consequently, the notion of Cosmogyny as a progessive outlook is premised on upsetting all forms of absolutism and in reworking the supposed place of the “Father who art in heaven..." with "the Father who Art..." creative. Even the critque of modernism, which in the end, boils down to a critique of genuis, is premised on the occulded element of feminine creativity. The genus of onto-theology and the gestational notion of creation based on the great gaia traditions are only reconciled in the definition of "genius" as gestation by way of genus. The definition of genuis associated with modernism is a rather malignant cultural meme based on the self-sufficiency of being as a vision that is unto-himself, for-himself, and by-himself... for all eternity. In other words, both the monism of modern genuis and the monotheism of modern religion are both a postulated absudity and a logical paradox: the creation of the big Other who appears from nowhere, but govens all. 



    Here it is important to mention that the artists involved in Cosmogyny do not represent the first serious attempt to point out these aesthetico-ethico-religious contradictions. Rather, their work is informed by an important tradition of sacrilegious contestation that is intimately wed to aesthetic contemplation. Afterall, this twofold tendency of modernism and monotheism to be exclusionary, elitist and thoroughly fundamantalist is not something that was lost on the many modern artists who recognized that the will toward strict absolutism, cut off from embracing the full spectrum of human experience, is itself the real tragedy of the modern age. It forms the chasm of a symbolic deficeit we are still trying to repair and replace today, with great gains and loses all around us.



    This effort was evidenced through the vast influence of theosophy on everyone from Mondrian to Kandinsky; the “spiritualist” obsessions of the Surrealists; the new age visions of Hilma of Klint and Malevich; the darker intimations of artists like Felicien Rops and Austin Osman Spare; and even Josephin Peladan’s Salons of the de la Rose + Croix. All of these early modern outliers circumscribe the origins of the avant-garde not as an advancing perspective, or an obsession with “the new”, but rather, as reclaiming and integrating the past, including the influence of wholly anti-modern tendencies! In other words, modern art also particiapted in the "sacred marriage" that is germane to creative acts hidden, occulted, or covered over by the dominant definitons of progressive art pratice. Because of this, there is and continues to be two modernisms --- a concealed modernism and a revealed one --- or rather, a modernism about advancing "visionaries" and a modernism that is about the play of revealing beyond what the eyes have to offer vision. 



    In our contemporary moment however, Cosmogyny picks up where these modern traditions left off, bringing radical aesthetic practices into the 21st century through the use of altars, pin-ups, puppets, paintings, plays, appropriations, and projections both real and imaginary. One can see the work in Cosmogyny both as response to our current religious and political pressures as well as an occulted conflict between our illusions of morality and identity. Adopting certian postmodern strategies like parody and pastiche, we can see how a heightened sense of self-awareness informs much of the work in the show, and that humor is often used as a tool of disarmerment in rethinking the ontic-ontological divide of representation.



    But where Cosmogyny exceeds and even challenges these postmodern prescendents is in its effort to reclaim the battelground of desire. One could even say that it is romanticism, and not the kind of neo-romanticism identified by writers like Michael Dashiell or Gargi Bhattacharya, but a perversion of the romantic idiom that forms the crux of the collective project that is Cosmogyny --- and which substantiates its varied pictorial cosmologies. The desire for the other, "the Other", the One, Ontos... all of this is stood on its head by the work in Cosmogyny. Instead, dualism, division, and the duplicitious are all made to pay dividens throughout the aesthetico-politico stagings of Cosmogyny as a newly minted vision of Dante's Divine Comedy, albiet, in the form of performative theater, a detourned video lounge, cheeky characterizations of the art press and much more. We have here, an new vision of the pictorialism of amor, of the artist's loves, and of endless consumation against the prejudices of consecration.



    So please join us for a night where the theater of existence will be dramatized on the one evening where all of culture takes part in the play of inverted symbolism, inerrant archetypes and irreverent masquerades. Help us celebrate Halloween, that other word which also carries an occulted meaning hidden within its etymology --- where the supposed “hollowness” of the parade of carnivalesque figurations --- is actually donned in order to let the inner deamon of us all out to play in the world for a bit. Like all forms of festival wherein the unspoken aim is nothing less than allowing the Jungian shadow-self to mingle with our everyday persona, so too, the opening night of Cosmogyny invites the transmutation of all forms, both the sacred and the profane, the beautiful and abject, high art and mass culture, in unlimited measure. 

    Artists in the show: Hannah Irene Walsh, Paige A. Turncliff, Lisa Von Hoffner, Rachel Goodwin, Mario Munguia Jr., Madison Pennisi, Daniel Funkhouser, and Mary Williams.



    PHX ART NOW II is the second part of a survey of contemporary art comprised of a wide cross-section of different concerns and mediums. It aims to be a snapshot of art production without trying to impose a theme or group ethos on the works being exhibited. Instead, PHX ART NOW II presents a glimpse into some of the most challenging, creative and diverse contemporary art being made in the valley today.


  • The Fate of Landscape Painting


    Landscape painting has always been tied to the question of fate. The pastoral landscape was comforting, conquered and subdued, signaling that the fate of humanity was in a position superior to that of nature, or ultimately, that is was closer to being in a pictorial dialogue that reflected the benign hand of a benevolent godhead. In contrast with this explicitly religious outlook, the experience of standing atop sublime vistas or facing nature's most extreme forces eschewed perspectives that threatened the safety of the human subject, and were often depicted using pictorial motifs associated with trans versing unimaginable distances. It is no coincidence that this interpretation of the landscape rose to prominence at the birth of the Enlighten, when humankind traded the picture of creation with a caretaker for so many images of paradise lost. Of course, these were strictly pre-modern notions of our fated condition of confronting the landscape, largely because it was taken for granted that there was no other means of natural habitation, save that of struggle. In fact, there was no way around the landscape as a fated relationship of tumult and toil until the invention of trains, planes and automobiles. As a consequence of these modes of transportation, along with widespread industrialization, the genre of landscape painting lost its perceived relevance as our relationship to the environment became one that was defined by greater and greater degrees of distantiation over the course of the last century. 

    After being exiled from relevance for more than a few generations, landscape painting has made a rather triumphant comeback by embracing the themes of earth-art, land-art and eco-art, but transmuting the central concerns of these genres into pictorial dispositifs. Once again, we are trying to picture the landscape, but not as caretakers or conquers. Instead we are confronted by the landscape in its aggregate and interconnected effects. Which is to say, that what was assumed to be inert matter has now become increasingly active and what was thought of as a bounded material has become a dynamic form of earthen animism. In short, it seems that since we've displaced enough of modernism's by-products into the atmosphere and the ground below, planetary life has now entered into a reactionary phase, or even a classic reaction-formation, with regard to the irrevocable inheritance of the modern era.



    Or, to go one step further, one might even say that we now live in the period of Gaia-in-revolt or even planetary anti-modernity if you will. Indeed, we might only be experiencing the first rumblings of the consequences that have come about by way of ignoring our interventions and accelerating investments into the literal and figurative idea of the landscape. Modernism was, afterall, defined by thinking about the concrete reality of materials put in service of a set of increasingly abstract pictorial conventions, which is to say, it abandoned the means to think about the x an y axis of representation with any degree of genuine complexity. Flatness and anti-illusionism became the call of the day, and postmodernism was only just beginning to recover the depth of field we once had, or a farsightedness which, when abandoned, also represented the loss of depth associated with our cultural concerns about the landscape. And so, in the early 21st century, we still find ourselves waking up from a kind of cultural slumber with regard to the problematic of creative-destruction and cognitive dissonance that defined the modern era tout court.

    But the artists in The Fate of Landscape Painting bring a renewed look at the landscape without any sense of productive or painterly indifference. The work of Travis Ivey plays with the dichotomy of romantic naturalism and constructed aerial views by assembling pictures from discarded commercial goods as well as traditional materials. Camila Galfore gives us a picture of the landscape painted in ghosted contours, combining the orthographic feel of eastern landscape painting with the techno-vibrancy of our contaminated life-world. Devon Tsuno provides the punctum of picturing the landscape by passing it through saturated chromatic scales cast against so many iconic motifs. Abbey Messmer paints with a method that is part dreamscape, part improvised reconstruction --- where the place of the human subject is put in question --- especially with regard to the feeling of a well-defined Cartesian space. Cam Decassin's paintings are perhaps even more telling in this regard, as they often hint at a post-Hopperesque world, one where what's left of the nuclear family is otherwise occupied indoors, or wondering amongst the constructed naturalism of suburban sprawl. Sarah Hathaway's more expressionistic approach gives us pause to reflect on the last vestiges of a world without us, where affect and effect make up the boundless play of beautiful and conflictual forces. Both Virginia Katz and Jonathan Marquis's works explicitly confront the themes of climate change by marshaling the ability of art materials to highlight how environmental conquest is circumscribed by both entropic and accelerationist tendencies. Emily Ritter's installation points to how the problems of accumulation, degradation and debris can be made into a literary corpus, or a exquisite encyclopedia of the ruins of the day based on using rhetorical devices of display.



    Together, these artists address The Fate of Landscape Painting in a different manner than their premodern or modern predecessors. They come not to bury the dead presuppositions of modernism but to exhume its exhausted remains, and possibly, to retrieve the potential of a genre cast aside for almost an entire epoch. They come to resuscitate its lost potential, and to make its fate into something more than what the logic of post-industrial capitalism and planned obsolescence might allow. In fact, in their able hands The Fate of Landscape Painting has a brighter future for foregoing the retrogressive tropes of démodé romanticism and instead, facing up to the demands of the day, or what many now call encountering the catastrophic condition that is comprised of living in the age of the anthroposcene. This term, which denotes an era forever marked by human impact on the carbon record gives us the contours of a new turn in the logic of the epoch, where the appreciation of creation and the abandonment of "mankind" have been replaced by examining the consequences of our collective impact today. Thus, the work in The Fate of Landscape Painting is a harbinger of things to come, and questions the viewer to think deeply again, and not just about the value of an image, or a genre, but the values of western culture in total. And because of this, The Fate of Landscape Painting still has a bright future today, tomorrow, and for many many years to come. It seems, that for this generation, it is even fated to be so. 

    Artists in the show: Laura Spalding Best, Cam DeCaussin, Camila Galofre, Sarah Hathaway, Travis Ivey, Megan Johnson, Virginia Katz, Jonathan Marquis, Abbey Messmer, Emily Ritter, and Devon Tsuno.

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