gallery nine5, in collaboration with the New Museum Ideas Festival, is pleased to present a new body of works by New York artist Steve Ellis. Surge Protection, will be on view from May 2-31, 2013 at 24 Spring St, New York City. The artist will present a brief talk about his work at an opening reception on Wednesday, May 1 from 6-9 pm.
Surge Protection transforms the gallery into a space for reflection on the future of cities. The New Museum Ideas Festival focuses on the role of culture in transforming city planning and improving urban landscapes. Ellis builds on this theme of untapped artistic capital by sounding a warning call. The artist applies his Pop Realism style to underscore the profound impact of natural elements on infrastructure built long ago, and offers imaginative solutions to the issues that the global community faces. The works illustrate the ability of artists to incite reactions and facilitate dialogue by presenting powerful images.
Using some of his characteristic elements like lighters, ripped magazines, and nesting birds, Ellis crafts urban fables where the city’s landmarks play the central role. In the painting “Monster Storm,” torn magazines give clues to both the realities of and possible solutions to the storm-surge problem on the East Coast. An image of the city’s skyline includes futuristic ocean fountains in the distance. Powered by harnessed tidal and wind energy, they can displace the water of the ocean into the air, lowering the sea level.
“Broken Snow Globe (Sandy 3012)” depicts the fragility of New York City (the artist’s home), and serves as a poignant reminder of the damage inflicted during one of the worst storms to have hit the metropolis in the last century. Ellis inserts the Empire State and Chrysler buildings in a snow globe getting pummeled by a destructive tidal wave. The generous application of paint in the composition of water and shattered glass embodies the power of the environmental concerns facing future generations. With a hint to the artist’s trademark humor, a billboard in the city advertises “The Tempest.”
Born in Washington D.C., Ellis was raised in various cities throughout the United States. In 1989, the artist moved to New York City to study at the prestigious School of Visual Arts. Following his graduation, Ellis lived and worked in downtown New York, cultivating his aesthetic by immersing himself in the vibrant subculture of the city’s nightlife.
Ellis has exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. in addition to several international shows. These include exhibitions at the AC Institute, the Studio @ 620, SoHo House, American Fine Arts, Lexington Armory and Art Southampton. Ellis’ works are held in private collections in Tokyo, Paris, Rome, Dublin, Seoul, Moscow, Bucarest, Singapore, Norway, Abu Dhabi, Auckland (New Zealand), Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington DC, Miami, New York, Dallas, and Philadelphia. He is currently a painting instructor at the School of Visual Arts.
gallery nine5 is pleased to present a series of paintings by Gonzalo Papantonakis in his third solo exhibition at the gallery. Spirits in the Material World will be on view from April 11 through April 29, 2013 at 24 Spring St, New York City. The artist will be present at an opening reception on Wednesday, April 10th from 6-9 pm.
Spirits in the Material World takes its title from “The Police” song of the same name. The lyrics, calling on our notions of what it takes to create real change, serve as a backdrop for the exhibit. Inspired by international political events, from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street and the global rumblings in between, the artist’s mixed media paintings serve as a footnote to the revolutionary potential of the future, while paying homage to the tools that unify individuals eager to act against a broken system. Papantonakis pays special attention to social media, often credited with uniting voices that are otherwise silenced.
In these emotionally complex and symbolically rich works, the artist conflates his own memories with artifacts from print and news media, as well as the recognizable icons of our digital existence. Using his signature vocabulary of flora, musical characters, and mirror-image text, the artist considers the changes of the last three years, while charging the work with personal details like photographs, to connect the global story to his own narrative. As in past series, Papantonakis incorporates elements of collage, paper, canvas and wood. Because the artist’s latest paintings have become rooted in current events, repeated elements throughout the body of work have a direct correlation to images strewn across televisions in recent history.
The bandanas in this series, representations of revolutionary action, offer a double meaning. Serving as protection from tear gas often thrown at demonstrators, the paisley design on each bandana exemplifies a mass of people, marching together. Religious symbolism is given prominence as well. Angry Birds, 2013, features Horus, the god of war and protection and one of the most recognizable gods of Ancient Egypt, juxtaposed with Twitter birds and characters from a popular game. The painting gives a nod to the region responsible for igniting the spark of the Arab Spring, and the technological platforms that helped spread the message. The combination of disparate yet related images speaks to the way a symbol can ricochet through history, as well as spread an idea en masse.
Based in Los Angeles, Papantonakis spent his childhood between Uruguay and Argentina before traveling extensively within Europe and the United States. The artist’s work is held in prestigious collections throughout Europe, the United States, Latin America, Australia and Asia. Papantonakis has also completed numerous site-specific works including a monumental installation at the Thompson Hotel (Thom Bar) in New York City.