Remembering Things Past, Part II

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.

Anti Liu, Gold Figure, 2013

Anti Liu, Gold Figure, 2013

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.

Meleko Mokgosi, Modern Art: The Root of African Savages III, 2012 - 2014

Meleko Mokgosi, Modern Art: The Root of African Savages III, 2012 – 2014

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.

Jason Paradis, Dead Man's Bay, 2011

Jason Paradis, Dead Man’s Bay, 2011

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.

Filiberto Perez, Serpiente Emplumada, 2014

Filiberto Perez, Serpiente Emplumada, 2014

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.

Richard Smith, Self Portrait, 1997

Richard Smith, Self Portrait, 1997

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.

Annemarie Waugh, Across the Pond Series: Throw a Wobbly, 2014

Annemarie Waugh, Across the Pond Series: Throw a Wobbly, 2014

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

Alexander Percy: The Texture of Color

This essay has been published in the January 2015 issue of ACES Magazine

On view in the Museum Shop of the Islip Art Museum is a selection of paintings by Alexander Percy. Percy’s abstract paintings examine the formal elements of fine art, such as shape, space, texture and color as well as their subsequent relationships with one another. His paintings focus on the materiality of paint, subsequent forms and shapes, and expression through color.

In regards to color, the artist breaks from traditional color theory, exploring how different colors interact with one another and the effects different combinations of color have on the finished work. Trapped consists of a mostly yellow painted canvas with a cavern of built up layers of red paint appearing across the central axis. On top of the red, Percy generously applies the yellow paint, which occupies two-thirds of the pictorial plane. In the work, Percy gives the illusion that the yellow paint is still in the process of suppressing the red as it washes over the color. If the title is meant to guide the viewer to a certain conclusion, one nonetheless has a sense of enclosure and surrender as the red band of paint succumbs to the engulfing yellow that has overtaken the entirety of the canvas, encasing it forever within itself.

Alexander Percy, Trapped, 2011

Alexander Percy, Trapped, 2011

The Mystery of a Life in Green finds the artist exploring the color green. The vertical piece is painted almost uniformly green with hints of yellow appearing through the canvas from beneath. The inclusion of yellow perhaps emphasizes the relationship between the two colors as green, a secondary color, derives from the combination of yellow and blue, both primary colors. Three-quarters of the painting’s surface appears relatively smooth with the final section, just above the horizontal central axis, covered in an encrusted layer of built up paint that appears to be pushing up and down. By allowing the paint to dry in such a manner, Percy highlights the materiality of the media and juxtaposed the smooth and encrusted textures it can create.

Alexander Percy, The Mystery of a Life in Green, 2011

Alexander Percy, The Mystery of a Life in Green, 2011

For Percy, painting is a cathartic experience as emotions flow through the artist’s brush onto the canvas. Heavy brushstrokes leave a trail traveled by the artist across the entirety of his canvases that evoke a wide range of different emotions. Whether or not it was intentional, Homesick and Pilgrim’s Revolution seem to form a pair of opposites. The two are the same size and both find the artist using the formal elements of fine art to express a certain emotion.

Alexander Percy, Homesick, 2007

Alexander Percy, Homesick, 2007

Homesick finds the artist utilizing a warm palette filled with reds, oranges, and yellows that are blended together or applied to the canvas in clumps that are left to harden, or are spread out by the palette knife. The gestural swirls, along with the warms colors, washes over the viewer in a manner similar to overpowering sadness, which often accompanies homesickness. Pilgrim’s Revolution, by contrast, is the opposite. The piece consists of a cool palette, filled with blues, white, and black, which are applied in jagged waves or tight swirls that connotes anger, an emotion commonly associated with revolutions and other acts of violence. It is interesting to note that Percy juxtaposes the color of each painting with the gestural manner in which they are applied. One would expect for a painting designated for sadness, he would have utilized a cooler palette (ex: to have the blues) while a painted designated to express anger he would have used warm colors (ex: to be red with anger). By disregarding traditional color theory, he opens his work to new interpretations, allowing the viewer to experience the work, and their consequent emotions, in an uninhibited manner.

Alexander Percy, The Pilgrim's Revolution, 2007

Alexander Percy, The Pilgrim’s Revolution, 2007

Percy was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and graduated from the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan with degrees in painting and art history. In 2005, Percy moved to New York City, where he now lives and works. He has participated in a number of exhibitions and art fairs around the world including Art Shanghai in China, Art Basel in Miami, and ArtHamptons in Southampton.

Alexander Percy: The Texture of Color runs in conjunction with the museum’s main exhibition, Remembering Things Past, which features foreign-born artists who incorporate past interests, memories, and experiences of their home country into their artwork. Both exhibitions are on display at the Islip Art Museum from January 18 – March 29, 2015 with a reception on Sunday, February 8, from 1 – 4pm.

Jay Schuck, Curator

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