THIS ESSAY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE FEBRUARY 2015 EDITION OF ACES MAGAZINE
Now on view at the Islip Art Museum is Remembering Things Past, which features foreign-born artists that are presently living and working in the United States. The artists presented in the exhibition arrived at different points in their lives and at different stages in their artistic career. Remembering Things Past is an expansion of an exhibition previously shown at the Patchogue Arts Gallery this past November – December. This article focuses on the artists Anti Liu, Meleko Mokgosi, Jason Paradis, Filiberto Perez, Richard Smith, and Annemarie Waugh. To read more about Linda Abadjian, Pablo Caviedes, Cui Fei, Ana Golici, Fatima Shakil, and Shirley Wegner, please refer to the December 2014 issue of ACES Magazine.
Taiwanese artist Anti Liu grew up in a time when war between China and Taiwan seemed immanent. After completing a BFA at the National Taiwan University of Arts, he came to America where he pursued his MFA studies from Long Island University. Liu’s work pokes fun at current events and today’s political climate, recognizing the severity of these issues while presenting them in a playful manner. His sculpture fuses his Asian heritage with pop culture imagery of the West.
Interdisciplinary artist Meleko Mokgosi creates large-scale project-based installations. His text-based series, Modern Art: The Root of African Savages, addresses the problematic re-inscriptions of colonial discourse. The base of each panel consists of printed text documents resembling large-scale traditional museum labels of African based artifacts, apparently looted during colonization. The artist then adds notes and revisions to the labels, discussing an alternative, more native view of how these conceptual objects entered Western institutions.
In his artwork, Canadian born Jason Paradis incorporates memories of his time in the vast northern wilderness. In Dead Man’s Bay, the artist presents the viewer with a star constellation the artist would have seen while gazing out at the nighttime sky while on a camping trip. Like natural constellations in the sky, the painting inspires a feeling that there is something much larger in existence than our immediate world.
With his artwork, Filiberto Perez takes a critical view on social, political issues found in the States and his native Mexico as he strives to deconstruct long held cultural beliefs. In his work Serpiente Emplumada he takes on subject of the Feathered Serpent, a divine creature rooted in prehistoric Mesoamerican societies. Here, the artist takes familiar visual symbols of the serpent, such as the decorative serpent heads shown in profile modeled after sculptures found at Ancient Aztec temples, and arranges these elements into a conceptually layered manner.
Richard Smith received his formal education in Britain during the 1950s, a time when the debate between the non-objective art of the Abstract Expressionists and the influence of the consumer oriented British Pop Art was in the minds of young artists. Smith developed an art that occupied the space between the two mindsets, taking in all the formal visual aspects of consumer products, incorporating them into his field paintings. In Self Portrait, the shape of the canvas resembles that of a crushed cigarette pack. Aided by the silhouette self portrait of the artist, complete with cigarette in mouth, it becomes obvious which consumer product the artist is referring to. Smith fuses together these elements with his signature formal imagery. Repeated bands of yellow, orange, red, and blue, are painted across the canvases in a random manner, expanding the work past the picture plane.
In her installation, Across the Pond, British artist Annemarie Waugh recalls the many idioms and phrases of the British English language. Phrases commonly used by the artist in England while growing up, have fallen on deaf ears here in the U.S., replaced by a different group of locutions. Like a dictionary, Waugh presents the viewer with a variety of British phrases along with their definition, allowing the American viewer to finally understand the foreign expressions.
Remembering Things Past brings together a collection of artists from different parts of the world. Each artist has unique memories and experiences of their home country that are incorporated into his or her art. The exhibition is on display at the Islip Art Museum from January 18 – March 29, 2015 and runs in conjunction with the exhibition Alexander Percy: The Texture of Color on display in the Museum Store. A reception will be held for both exhibitions on Sunday, February 8, from 1 – 4pm at the Islip Art Museum.
Jay Schuck & John Cino, Co-Curators