Calvin Marcus at Peep-Hole
20 November 2015 – 23 January 2016
Peep-Hole presents Calvin Marcus at Peep-Hole, the first solo exhibition in Italy by Calvin Marcus.
The numerous visual languages that Calvin Marcus approaches in his artistic practice reveal a process fueled by constant evolution, where a general sense of openness coexists with a quest for meticulous, research-based conclusions that engage a critical sensitivity to material, technique and form. Marcus deftly employs a wide range of traditional materials and techniques—including drawing, oil painting, ceramics, and metalwork—testing their potential through concentrated shifts in scale and context.
His work frequently gazes back onto itself, reflecting upon the narcissistic nature that often accompanies the production of art objects. The concept of identity is a central subject of his analysis, which moves from direct references to the artist himself, the routines of an artistic practice, and the conditions that govern an aesthetic experience. The reiteration of his own physical image via the motif of the self-portrait, a subject of which appears compulsively throughout his work, exhibits Marcus’s interest in questions of selfhood and the ability to negotiate oneself between private and public space.
The same themes are also central to the exhibition that he has conceived for Peep-Hole, where a group of formally diverse works collectively render questions of perception, imitation, and desire, as well as the distance between the public dimension of the exhibition context and the intimate, private, and even domestic space of the artist’s personal sphere.
Interaction with the exhibition setting and architecture is a pivotal element for Calvin Marcus. Following the symmetry of the three rooms that make up the space, a series of paintings marks out the viewing path from first to last, underscoring the transitions from one to the next. These paintings—Me With Tongue (2015)—are oil enlargements of small crayon sketches that present a spectral image of the artist’s face: self-portraits that Marcus obsessively makes as a meditation on his own practice and on the nature, meaning and limitations of art-making. The works reproduce this compulsive, maniacal exercise in their content, style and technique, meticulously imitating the texture, marks and color range of Crayolas, the paper surface and the unfinished look found in the preparatory sketches.
Deeply different from a formal standpoint but similar in their underlying concept, the small ceramic sculptures—Untitled (2015)—are plates bearing miniatures of fish with anthropomorphic expressions and poses. These are reassuring images whose cheerful, amusing, laid-back mood is a counterpoint to the feeling of anxiety induced by the self-portraits.
The relaxed state of the characters they portray is paralleled by the freshness and immediacy of the style, instantly generating a sense of familiarity and comfort. At the same time, even the accessible, craftsy nature of these objects—which resemble the ornamental plates used as home decor or the kind made by kids in art class—the childish imagery and the supposed innocence they evoke can summon up their own uncanny aura of anguish and disquiet.
The juxtaposition of these works thus creates a leap between moods, mingling feelings of consolation, risk, and fear within a larger field in which humor, pathos, the grotesque and the ordinary incessantly alternate and overlap.
Their dialectic nature and the dichotomy they create through their interaction is reflected by the very layout of the show, which moves in one direction through a crescendo of images and emotions that magnetically draw visitors to the last room, then sends them back, as they retrace their steps, into a space that offers nothing else to the gaze and is suddenly free of any presence, moving from full to empty, excess to absence, noise to silence.
Download full text ITALIAN
Calvin Marcus (1988, San Francisco) lives and works in Los Angeles. Recent solo shows include: Green Calvin, C L E A R I N G, New York (2015); 43° 42’ 46.4148’’ N, 79° 20’ 30.5988’’ W, Public Fiction, Los Angeles (2014); So Cal, Chin’s Push, Los Angeles (2014). Group exhibitions in 2015: Repainting the Image after Abstraction, White Cube Bermondsey, London; Jeff, Grice Bench, Los Angeles; Works on Paper, Greene Naftali, New York; Le Musée Imaginaire, Lefebvre & Fils, Paris. In January 2016, a solo show of his work will be presented at David Kordansky in Los Angeles.
Calvin Marcus at Peep-Hole
Opening 19 November, 6.00 pm
Show on view 20 November 2015 – 23 January 2016
Via Stilicone 10 – 20154 Milan
Wednesday – Saturday
2.30 pm – 7.00 pm
or by appointment
Ph: ©2015 Laura Fantacuzzi – Maxime Galati-Fourcade