Untitled (New Horizon), 2013, acrylic on canvas
Untitled (Before I grew up and hated myself), 2013
Untitled (The Painting of the Year), 2013
January 31 – March 9, 2014
New York artist Rory Devine returns to CB1 Gallery with a new exhibition of paintings and works on paper that address issues of humor, tragedy, and the authentic voice of the artist. Rory Devine: Tragic Kingdom opens on January 31, 2014 and will be on view through March 9, with a reception with the artist on Sunday, February 9, 5 - 7 p.m.
Described as an artist that “subtly reworks traditions and sends them off in unexpected directions,” in Tragic Kingdom, Devine continues in that vein, cleverly using a sort of photorealism-style of painting to convey his commentary on class and social status, as well as the tragedy and melodrama of life in the tragic kingdom of America.
The first group of paintings in Tragic Kingdom are reminiscent of early 1970s photorealism, painted to be lifelike without being oppressively so. Devine notes that there is a certain kind of realism that can only be achieved through a photograph. True to his enigmatic nature, Devine takes the realism of photography – in his case, stock photography as source material – and reworks it using his fluid, painterly style.
Stock photography is, almost by definition, ordinary. When re-imagined by Devine, it becomes potent commentary. In Untitled (Women Laughing #1, #2, and #3), a viewer of the original photographs could assume a certain class, income level and social status with one quick glance. As paintings, Devine slows down the readings of the images, letting the paint tell part of the reworked, far-from-ordinary story. Similarly, in works such as Untitled (Audience #1) and Untitled (Audience #2), which focus on groups of people engaged in a lecture, Devine’s layering of colors to compose these paintings add to the surface tension.
Devine also presents a group of paintings that examine complex emotions and feelings, like shame and misery. In Untitled (Before I grew up and hated myself), Devine portrays Grunge icon Kurt Cobain as a smiling seven-year-old child. All the years of torment and unhappiness lay before him, yet at this gentle age, Cobain seems like any other happy, smiling young man. The rest of Devine’s subjects, including fetishized deer, disgraced boxer Oliver McCall, and Untitled (New Horizon), which asks the viewer to “Abandon all that you know”, speak to a picture of tragedy and melodrama.
Also part of the exhibition is a video collaboration between Devine and Los Angeles artist Keith Walsh, Untitled (You can’t get there from here), 2013. Incorporating an original score by Walsh, the video plays nonstop and its musical notes guide the viewer through the exhibition, providing an emotional though unsettling grounding to the still images.
Rory Devine is a painter living in New York. His work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions. He received his BFA from The School of Visual Arts in New York City and founded and ran the influential TRI Gallery in Los Angeles from 1992 to 1995.