P.P.O.W is pleased to present historical and contemporary works by Judith Linhares, Erin M. Riley, Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, Suzanne Treister, Robin F. Williams, Martin Wong, and Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlin.
Rooted in the California Bay Area Counterculture of the 60s and 70s, Judith Linhares (b. 1940) combines modes of abstract expressionism with Bay Area figuration to conjure uniquely irradiant narratives. In Gaze, 2019, Linhares’ languorous protagonist scans a star-filled sky, warmed by her fire and satiated by her picnic. A diminutive man in the landscape’s periphery gazes longingly at her prone form but she pays him no heed as she finds self-fulfillment in her own ascendancy. Approaching figuration through abstracted forms, Linhares uses sumptuous colors to depict women communing with nature, alongside colorful portraits of farm animals and floral still lives. In his review of Linhares’ debut solo show at P•P•O•W, Hearts on Fire, Frieze Magazine’s Evan Moffitt wrote, “The bright purples, pink and marigolds of her canvases are colours that don’t exist in Manhattan, or possibly anywhere else on this planet. Slightly alien, too, are the distended bodies of her figures, exclusively female and nude. With Linhares’ goggles on, art history becomes an LSD fever dream.” Sexual without being sexy, her nude female figures lay claim to their domestic and natural landscape. Whether climbing trees, riding on horseback, or delighting in drunken revelry, Linhares’ sirens build fairy tales and mythologies all their own. Judith Linhares earned her BFA and MFA degrees from California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA. She was included in the influential Bad Painting exhibition at the New Museum, organized by legendary curator Marcia Tucker. In the early 1990s, a traveling survey, Dangerous Pleasures: The Art of Judith Linhares, toured museums and galleries on both coasts. She has participated in numerous group exhibitions nationally and internationally and will be included in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ Contemporary Art: Five Propositions opening October 26, 2019. Linhares is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and has received multiple grants from the National Endowments for the Arts. Her work is held in many permanent collections, including the de Young Museum, San Francisco, CA; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY.
Erin M. Riley (b. 1985) is a fiber artist who renders erotic and psychologically raw imagery in hand-dyed wool tapestries. Reflections, 2019, is one of Riley’s boldest works yet from her selfie series. Monumental in scale, Reflections ingeniously toggles between access and obscurity. While the artist depicts herself completely nude in her own room, and even provides details such as disheveled dresser drawers and the reflection of her iPhone in the background mirror, her face is completely erased and her tattoos shield her nakedness. Riley received her BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art. Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions throughout the U.S., the United Kingdom, and Australia. Riley has lectured extensively throughout the country and has had residencies at The MacDowell Colony, NH and the Museum of Art and Design, NY. Used Tape, Riley’s debut exhibition at P·P·O·W took place in May 2018. In her review for the New York Times, Jillian Steinhauer writes, “Ms. Riley successfully intertwines two strands of second-wave feminist art: the reclamation of so-called craft mediums and women’s use of their bodies. Into this she braids the distanced gaze of the still life. If the show has a thesis statement, it might be that for women, pain and pleasure remain perilously intertwined — a lesson that bears repeating in the time of #MeToo.”
Carolee Schneemann (1939-2019) activated the female nude with a multidisciplinary practice that spanned sixty years and included painting, assemblage, performance, and film. By connecting the kinetic nature of her early paintings and assemblages to her radical performances and films, Schneemann’s work made a permanent mark on the history of art. P•P•O•W will present Venus Vectors, 1987, a monumental sculpture with video, and the mixed-media diagram Venus Vector Vocabulary, 1990. Both works stem from the late artist’s 1981-83 performance Fresh Blood - A Dream Morphology, which deconstructs cultural notions of the feminine as a metaphoric battleground. A kinetic sculpture, Venus Vectors is composed of ten transparent acrylic panels that radiate out towards the viewer, baring images of the human body, sacred artifacts, organic forms and common characters that share V-shaped form. Venus Vector Vocabulary, a visual taxonomy of V-forms alongside notes and drawings explicating her earlier performance, in many ways is the key, not only to Venus Vectors, but to Schneemann’s entire oeuvre. Schneemann’s work has been exhibited worldwide, at institutions including the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art and The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; and The Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid. The comprehensive retrospective Carolee Schneemann: Kinetic Paintings recently traveled from Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (2015), to the Museum fur Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (2017) and MoMA PS1, New York (2018). A major retrospective of Schneemann’s work is slated to open at the Barbican Centre, UK in 2020
In a career spanning five decades, Betty Tompkins (b.1945) has been celebrated and scorned for her provocative feminist iconography. By appropriating imagery created for male self-pleasure, Tompkins has reframed long-held taboos by challenging critical discourses around content, style, and scale. Censored Painting #2 (Paris 1973 - Instagram 2019), 2019 chronicles her decades-long battle with institutional censorship. In 1973, two significant paintings from her Fuck Paintings series were seized by French customs and, in April 2019, Tompkins’ Instagram account was deleted after she posted an image of a catalog reproduction of Fuck Painting #1, 1969, which is now in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou. In a 2017 New York Times article, Rachel Corbett wrote, “Part of what makes Tompkins’ work so enduringly potent today, and what made it too shocking for its time, is not just its frank sexuality: It’s that the art [...] seethes with lust, ego, wisecracks and profanity. [She] demanded attention the way men did — through shock and awe.” Tompkins will have a concurrent solo presentation of her visually cacophonous Women Words series curated by Darren Flook at Freehouse Gallery in London. Tompkins’ recent solo exhibitions include Fuck Paintings, etc, J Hammond Projects, London, U.K. (2019); Will She Ever Shut Up?, P•P•O•W (2018); and Betty Tompkins, Ribordy Contemporary, Geneva, Switzerland (2018). Her work has been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Half the Picture: A Feminist Look at the Collection, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (2018); Histórias da sexualidade, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paolo, Brazil (2018); Black Sheep Feminism: The Art of Sexual Politics, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas, Texas (2016) and Elles, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011), among others.
Suzanne Treister (b. 1958) has been a pioneer in digital, new media, and web-based media art since the late-1980s. Her work is often made in elaborate, years-long series of watercolor diagrams which conjure fictional worlds, international collaborative organizations, and apocalyptic or regenerative futures. P•P•O•W will present a new series of paintings from SURVIVOR (F), a hallucinogenic exploration of a future reality in undetermined time and space. Begun in 2016, this series presents manifestations of a fictional survivor of the human race, visions of a post-futuristic sublime, and diagrams of the psychedelic consciousness of SURVIVOR (F), an entity that is both human and non-human, agency and non- agency. Treister studied at St Martin’s School of Art, London (1978-1981) and Chelsea College of Art and Design, London (1981-1982) and currently lives and works in London. Recent exhibitions include solo and group shows at the ICA London; 10th Shanghai Biennale, China; ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany; Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (SMBA), Netherlands; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Raven Row, London; Secession, Vienna; Museum of Contemporary Art (CAPC) Bordeaux and Annely Juda Fine Art, London. Treister’s work is held in private and public collections including Tate Britain; Science Museum, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Muzeum Sztuki, Łódź, Poland and Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna. From SURVIVOR (F) to The Escapist BHST (Black Hole Spacetime), a solo exhibition of paintings and watercolors, will be on view at Annely Juda Fine Art from September 19 – November 2, 2019. On September 19, a digital exhibition of the same name will be launched by Serpentine Galleries, London, and will be accessible through “a ring of sky-based portals in Augmented Reality”, which can also be downloaded and set as desktop images on computer screens, tablets and phones. This project will also take the form of a fully illustrated book by Serpentine Galleries and Koenig Books, London. Treister’s work is also featured in the 16th edition of the Istanbul Biennial, The Seventh Continent, on view through November 10.
Robin F. Williams (b. 1984) utilizes a variety of techniques, including oil, acrylic, airbrush, marbling, and the staining of raw canvas, to create figurative paintings that are at once confounding and familiar. Challenging systemic conventions of representations of women in art history, commercial advertising, and pop culture, Williams refers to her female figures as “zombie nudes” – figures that are sentient, yet ambiguously generated. Leave Britney Alone, 2019 presents a crazed, terrifying, and powerful depiction of the pop idol Britney Spears. Referencing mythical and biblical symbols, Gustave Courbet’s The Desperate Man, 1844-45, and the pop singer’s iconic performance at MTV’s 2001 Video Music Awards, this psychologically charged portrait imbues its subject with a bestial and androgynous quality rendered through the mottled skin and crude geometric features. The painting becomes a double portrait with the inclusion of Spears’ notoriously favorite pet snake Banana, whose skin is created using a DIY arts and crafts marbling technique. With three solo exhibitions at P·P·O·W, Williams has garnered critical recognition for her contribution to figurative and feminist painting, noting the complexity of her compositions, technical virtuosity and the psychological depth of her narratives. In her review of Williams' 2017 exhibition Your Good Taste is Showing, Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote: "These painting are timely, but they are also enigmatic, off-putting and out there in rewarding ways.” Williams received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, has been included in numerous exhibitions nationally and internationally and has been honored as the Josephine Mercy Heathcote Fellow at The MacDowell Colony. Her debut West Coast solo exhibition, With Pleasure, is now on view at Various Small Fires, Los Angeles through October 26, 2019.
In his last major body of work, Martin Wong (1946-1999) turned his attention to his own heritage, painting scenes from New York and San Francisco’s Chinatowns. In addition to depictions of local businesses and annual festivals, this series explores Bruce Lee’s impact on American popular culture, Chinese American self-awareness, along with Wong’s own identity. More explicitly than other Chinatown work, Bruce Lee in the Afterworld, 1991 depicts Lee almost as a saint and plays with ideas of Chinese masculinity and sexuality within American culture. The actor’s iconic image as a heroic fighter propelled the popularity of the martial arts in America and created a lasting symbol of masculinity. Wong was active in the San Francisco Bay Area art scene during the 1970s and was involved with the performance art groups, The Cockettes and Angels of Light. In 1978 he moved to Manhattan, eventually settling in the Lower East Side, where his attention turned exclusively to painting. Wong set forth to depict urban life on the Lower East Side where he then lived. Wong died in San Francisco from an AIDS related illness in 1999. His work can be found in museum collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Bronx Museum of The Arts, and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Cleveland Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Wong had a one person show Sweet Oblivion at the New Museum (1998). Wong's retrospective, Human Instamatic, opened at the Bronx Museum of The Arts in November 2015, the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio in May of 2016 and traveled to the UC Berkeley Art Museum in 2017.
Rosie Hastings and Hannah Quinlin (b. 1991) explore themes of historical and contemporary queerness and resistance in drawing, video and performance. P·P·O·W will present a large graphic drawing that reframes of Edward Burne-Jones's The Legend Briar Rose series (1890). A meditation upon the legacy of Burne-Jones, this work imagines as a fantastical gay-bar environment that incorporates period-specific features including heavy drapery and jewel-like colors. The characters that populate this fictious space are slumbering and passive embodiments for the shifting ecology of queer culture, including threats to assimilate, state-led structural oppression and the global shift to the political right. Hannah Quinlan was born in Newcastle and Rosie Hastings in London; both currently live and work in London. Their work includes the ongoing project @Gaybar, where the artists re-stage the historicized gay bar as a container for queer practice, and the UK Gay Bar Directory, a moving image archive of gay bars in the UK. Most recently, their work has been exhibited in Kiss My Genders at the Hayward Gallery and Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today at Whitechapel Gallery, as well as a special live performance at the Centre Pompidou alongside Jesse Hultberg. Selected gallery exhibitions include Arcadia Missa, London; Truth and Consequences, Geneva; 15th Venice Architecture Biennale; Oslo 10, Basel; Room E10-27, Paris. Their work has been presented in institutions such as Birmingham Museum of Contemporary Art, Birmingham; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; The David Roberts Art Foundation, London; and Somerset House, London. A publication documenting the UK Gay Bar Directory was released by Arcadia Missa in 2017.