Lucky DeBellevue – An Error Occurred
Weiss Falk, Basel
I think of what I do as kind of negotiating with the world, responding to it, and recording things in my life. The process starts with thoughts that become actions in for me a solitary place. Then it moves to the larger world, which becomes a kind of exposure of the thought process. There is horizontal way of collecting information, without hierarchies, a little bit like a reporter or spy. As someone who grew up without computers and smart phones, it is also seeing those changes as somewhat of an outsider, these devices and ways of being in touch as kind of invasive. Almost like an alien host attaching itself to something and not letting go. The internet experienced where one lives or on the go, as always something lurking as a presence. It is again, something that is brought in, not organic to life, but has become integrated in how one thinks and views the world. With that said, my recording of that experience is shown through the decision many months ago to collect the signage found on social media. These take on the forms of inspirational sayings, humor, and political expressions that take the temperature of a certain time, and the thoughts of others. These things almost become talisman to get through the day, an expression of rage, or something clever to give a little comic relief. It reflects belief systems, fears, and desires of people about how to live, or how they want to live, or how they view the world, or want to world to be. The Trump election was an unforeseen event that caught many by surprise. It is about dealing with the ou- trage and disappointment of it, and also, since it is taken from my own feed from social media, a kind of echo chamber of like-minded people. For the most part, it reflects my own views often in the statements, because I chose which ones to keep. From time to time it reflects a world-view, with the narcissism built in to the platforms where these statements and memes appear.
By building on the last exhibition – „Assignment” at Kai Matsumiya Gallery, New York – these works continue with the process I used in that show, a new way of painting/printing for me, in that a printed pattern that can take on different connotations. It builds on the space being a void and a solid. It reads as atmosphere, and maybe static found on the screens of technological devices. Again, it is about my engagement with the outside world, and taking that information in. The older ways of receiving informa- tion are also referenced; the world of books. Two art books, found in thrift stores, on artists Käthe Koll- witz and Alexander Calder, reference art history and visual information. I have used some of the forms found in both books, with the shapes of their work Incorporated into my own work. „The Widow“ and „The Parents“, are two somewhat dramatic woodblock prints, speaking to misery with dramatic, almost kitchy expressionism. Like the social media sayings of signage, the decision to use these images was decided on as the refuge problem was coming about, and before it became so politicized in America. By just using the shapes of the woodblock without the details, things are alluded to, and given more clarity with the titles. The use of the Calder image from one of his mobiles, refers to the idea of how to negotiate being an artist, and the movement of the mobile speaks to chance, and the different ways of viewing a thing. The title of the work „Performing Seal“ is a bit of an insider joke for me, after a reviewer from the New York Times referred to my work in my last exhibition as a meditation on artists to produce work at an accelerated pace, with art fairs and other commitments. But in fact my intention for the work in question was about the possibility of projects being realized, and how the unrealized ones are subject to chance and opportunity. It is about the artist’s agency and what comes into fruition. Influenced by the memes and signage, words and letter have also crept into the paintings and sculptures. The tropes of achievement, BFA and MFA appear with the images of the „The Parents“ and „The Widow“, as a contrast and nod to the events of a life. I another painting, the word “Follow” references looking at a Tumblr online, and how the word appears to get notifications on the site, along with the general connotation of what the word implies. The word “Send” on a larger painting is that moment of anticipation or dread before that button is push to contact the receiver.
In some paintings, pistachio shells are employed as a medium that I have used since 2014, which refers to the everyday, the marking of time, the basic action of eating. The sculptures incorporate letter making, using my previous use of wood veneer and graphite, this time as a logo for the gallery, and a self-portrait using my initials. The plinths are made of hay bales, which give it a pastoral air, and are an oblique refe- rence to sexy photography secessions and porn shoots. On another large painting, entitled Losing Numbers, I used the numbers from a losing lotto card, addresses the randomness of success and failure, and the dividing line of choices that change the game. This supposedly randomness of predicting choices has come into play of late, in everything from questioning the election results of Donald Trump, to the mistaken reading of the best picture Oscar winner. So the title of the show presents itself for consideration, a phrase used when something is not quite right, presented in computer-speak. When a website is not responding, or a glitch in the system appears we often see this: An Error Occurred.
Photos: Gina Folly, Courtesy: Weiss Falk and the Artist