A Tight and Irreverent Collage Show Curated by Carlo McCormick
In this piece for “Shred”, Street Artist Judith Supine clearly enunciates the radical psycho-sexual non-sequiturs that make Supine’s collage a powerful voice in New York Street Art at the moment. In addition to the signature acid bright template are the cigarette, the nudity, and the reference to childhood that occur often in pieces by the artist. The paper collage is scattered with raised green metallic pieces that look like broken fingernails forming smooth lumps under the resin. The artist confirmed in fact that the “finger nails” are glass jewel beetles. Judith Supine “Patrice ” 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
To curate any show well requires a finely balanced hand that can go unappreciated. If the gentle and deliberate directing of artists and their contributions is not thoughtful and focused, a show may feel off-kilter, unkempt, even ruinous. Although he denies it with humility in equal proportion to his expertise, curator Carlo McCormick displays his adept hand at collage (or assemblage) in “Shred”, the new collage show he curates for the Perry Rubenstein Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district.
In talking about the genesis of “Shred”, McCormick describes a downtown East Village scene and the concurrent Graffiti scene of the 70s and 80s that imploded messily at the end of a hyper-excited zenith. An author, editor, and speaker who is considered expert on the topic of NYC’s downtown scene at the time, McCormick knows well what the signs of our fickle obsessions can look like, “And yes everyone gets kind of famous for a bit and a bunch of money flows through it and it is over”.
Drawing a few connections, he explained he’d like to avoid the “the kind of phenomenology of that moment” that Street Art could find itself precariously hanging on the edge of. So it is with purpose that he extends the span of this collection to broaden the dialogue about the practice of collage.
“The main thing I thought was about street art – involving the wheat pasting and it’s stenciling and it’s silk screening – is that it has inherently a lot of collage effects”. In addition to today’s adventurous street artists who are represented here by Faile, Swoon, Elbow Toe, Shepard Fairey, and Judith Supine, McCormick also includes some of their predecessors and peers, like Jess, Erik Foss, and Gee Vaucher. For final balance, he called upon three film makers who are “really ripping shit apart”.
Recognizing that “collage was not exactly invented yesterday”, McCormick stipulates that he was crafting his own message by selecting these artists. The great common denominator? “Well obviously surrealism had a great part in it. I’m looking for the more outré elements of it. I’d say it’s an attitude; there is a certain irreverence in it, and caring about the materials working with it”. Talking with a few of the artists and guests Thursday night at the opening, those elements are present in this show and were very well received.
An elongated mutant pop pretty boy by Mark Flood, “Twilight Feelings” 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
Using photographs taken of himself by his lover Robert Mapplethorpe, Jack Walls creates optical vibrations in these recent collage pieces that span and unite both the Downtown and the Street Art explosions. (Three of Installation of Five). 2008 Photo © Jaime Rojo )
Street Art Duo Faile reprise imagery from one of their recent street art stencils in this large acrylic and silkscreened piece that welcomes guests at “Shred”. “Never Enough” 2010. Detail (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
An early example of collage at “Shred”. Jess “Untitled” (Konrad Lorenz) 1955. Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
Brian Douglas (Elbow-Toe) “Bears” 2010. Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
In attendance at the opening was the Street Artist known as Elbow Toe, who created one of the more mystifying images, both in it’s content and it’s thousands of hand-cut pieces that are applied in such a painterly fashion that standing a few feet away from the piece can lead a viewer to believe it was done with oil and brush.Speaking about a new series of collages based on psychological and possibly autobiographical themes that he’s exploring, Elbow Toe said, “It was the first one I’ve done….all the collage stuff is heading in a more narrative direction. And this is the first of many that are all getting much more weird, I guess.”
A grouping of collages by Leo Fitzpatrick. Untitled. 2010 (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
A seriously dog-eared commercial landscape (signed MORAN) from a 1966 suburban living room, long since faded and liberated from its frame and stained by water drops, artist Erik Foss turns it into a surreal other planetary world with clusters of owls, floating moons, and robed faceless wizards and witches dressed by the House of Stevie Nicks. Erik Foss “Look Out” 2010 Detail. (Photo © Jaime Rojo)
“Shred” July 1 – August 27, 2010
Perry Rubenstein Gallery
527 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10001