Michael Bevilacqua, Robert Rauschenberg & David Salle: Songs for Sale

 

Gallery Faurschou Beijing

25 November 2010 – 06 March 2011

Press Release:

 

Songs for Sale, is an exhibition of three large-scale paintings by Robert Rauschenberg, David Salle, and Michael Bevilacqua now opening at FAURSCHOU BEIJING.

 

The exhibition celebrates the tradition of the “big American painting,” the epic works of the New York School and Pop era painters that reflect the scale of the American landscape and the sweep of the American vision.

The exhibition features three ambitious works: Robert Rauschenberg’s Ten Yard Sale, 1999, (306 x 884 cm), David Salle’s Songs for Sale, 1997, (305 x 2621 cm), and Michael Bevilacqua’s Show Your Bones, 2006, (274x 1097 cm).

 

Robert Rauschenberg (1925 – 2008) has had the capacity of being one of the most important American artists ever since the beginning of his career in the 1950’s - right until his death two years ago at the age of 83.

 

Rauschenberg works collects images from American everyday life, where the fine and beautiful equally is to be found in prosaic things such as a Manhattan rooftop water tank, a ramshackle shed, a cable drum, or a stack of old roof tiles. His Combines, silk-screens and photo collages all bear his trademark: The tactile surface and the aesthetic balance of his compositions. He was unsurpassed in colour, composition, visual rhythm; and an aesthetic genius when it came to the sensual surface and materiality of the work.

 

The inaugural exhibition at FAURSCHOU BEIJING was a three decades show of works by Robert Rauschenberg where Ten Yard Sale was included. It is one of the largest works from the Anagrams (A Pun) series. Mary Lynn Kotz, author of “Rauschenberg/Art and Life”, describes the Anagrams as telling “his story of the world in the last few years of the twentieth century through imagery collected from his travels. As in verbal anagrams, he rearranged his images to ‘discover a hidden message,’ one that brings the ordinary, the unique, and the universal into his own collaged-image patterns. As always, though the photographs record his experience, Rauschenberg left it up to the viewer to supply the narrative, to make a personal connection among the images the artist brought to paper.”

 

David Salle (1952) had his international breakthrough as a painter in the 1980’s with his large figurative works, eclectically juxtaposing various image fragments and objects. Quoting art history, advertising, films, erotica, comics and his own black and white photographs, Salle creates complex, collage-like compositions.

 

David Salle describes Songs for Sale (1997) as “a cornucopia of American images.” In developing the composition, the artist was inspired by the American musical theatre, which is reflected in the title. The composition is analogous to popular music and dance; it is full of syncopated and contrapuntal rhythms. “It’s like a big piece of sheet music,” Salle says of this piece which has the size of a mural. “Like a 19th Century camping song or saloon song, grabbing disparate elements of the American Vernacular.”

 

The imagery is Pop and contemporary. The central image of the mural is that of painting itself – a canvas stretcher turned away from the viewer. The painting seen from behind is a classic image from American art history referring both to the trompe l’oeil tradition and to the self-reflexive attitude of much recent art. The composition flows out in both directions from this centre point of the reversed canvas. It is as if both ends of the painting could be brought together to form a continuous band, a great encircling loop.

 

The sheer size of the painting makes it amazing – the painting is 26 meter long, the myriad of images and the numerous shifts in scale keep the eye pulsing across the picture surface. The painting offers sensual pleasures as well; it overflows with images of things to eat and drink, to touch, and hear.

 

Michael Bevilacqua (1966) has previously shown at Faurschou Beijing. He started out in the early 1990’s, when he became known for his Pop-inspired, brightly coloured, graphic paintings. They have a collage-like quality and are composed from a mass of visual fragments – both figurative and abstract; cultural icon and personal reference.

 

Show Your Bones (2006) is Michael Bevilacqua’s largest and most ambitious painting. Its title refers to the way the imagery of the painting sums up the artist’s influences and his own history as an artist. The structure of the work corresponds to the structure of sampling and layering in contemporary musical composition. It also reflects the spliced and layered structure of contemporary consciousness. Bevilacqua’s composition includes two surrogate self portraits, the doorway to his former studio, and a still life of wine bottles and spray cans, an allusion to the way he learned to paint as a teenager. There are also quotations from some of his earlier paintings and the big number 7 from the side of his painted racecar. There is also an array of images from album covers and music videos that intersect with his artistic interests.

 

This show was originally made in 2006 by Jeffrey Deitch and was shown in his New York Space, Deitch Projects. We are pleased to show these remarkable paintings for a Chinese audience.

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