Painting Bitten by a Man is a two-person exhibition of artists Brian Kokoska and Jonathan VanDyke, both of whom work with paint, queering both its historical resonance and contemporary application. Both artists manipulate the medium to embody a push and pull between concealment and display, perhaps even “perverting” the very act of disclosure – the disclosure of hidden histories, rumors and fantasies, and “private” sex acts – in relation to painterly gestures and re-presentation. Their diverse bodies of work present a harmonious but complex merging of two distinct “painting” styles and introduce individual contemporary queer sensibilities through various approaches to figuration, abstraction, and materiality.
Jonathan VanDyke, on opening night, will present the site-specific Cordoned Area, a three-hour performance for two dancers (who are also lovers). Their sometimes-affectionate, sometimes-violent interactions result in a “painting” on both their costumes and the gallery architecture, as they move among gallery-goers. A series of his wall-mounted sculptures also “perform,” dripping paint directly onto the gallery floor for the duration of the exhibition. Complimenting this work is a durational video and a group of photographs entitled Equivalents, in which historical, academic images from art books are paired with suggestively homoerotic images of men at play.
Brian Kokoska is represented by a large and varied selection of paintings from the past four years, marked by both a sexual explicitness and a child-like, finger-painting aesthetic that draws upon and delves into both figuration and abstraction. His images are at once celebratory and sinister, imaginary and dripping with desire. A new series of never-before-seen figurative sculptures will compliment and complicate his two-dimensional works.
The title of the show comes from a rarely seen 1961 Jasper Johns painting of the same name, a timidly erotic/pornographic image, an encaustic monochrome from which Johns has literally taken a bite. This work remained until recently in Johns’ personal collection and was shown very infrequently, evoking a complicated self-censorship interrupted by a perhaps unavoidable impulse to display. Johns, of course, coming of age in a pre-Stonewall, pre-AIDS-crisis New York art world, had a relationship to queerness that is no longer tenable. This exhibition poses the question: What are contemporary artists’ reactions to the interplays and intersections among art, sex, public and private acts, representation, and history, given our contemporary situation?
The exhibition will also be accompanied by a catalog, an artist talk, and a roundtable discussion. Details to be announced.
About the Artists
Brian Kokoska is an artist based in New York. He received a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. His paintings have been seen in artUS (Los Angeles), V (New York), Whitehot (New York), and Canadian Art (Toronto). Recent solo exhibitions include Beige Infinity at Blanket Contemporary Art Inc. (Vancouver) and A Sad Ballad at Preteen Gallery (Mexico City). Upcoming projects in 2012 include a pop-up and solo show with Et Al Projects (New York). Painting Bitten by a Man is Kokoska’s first exhibition in Philadelphia.
Jonathan VanDyke is an artist based in New York. He received an MFA in Sculpture from Bard College in 2005, attended the Skowhegan School in 2008, and in 2007 attended the Atlantic Center for the Arts, where he was mentored by the artist Paul Pfeiffer. Recent solo projects include The Long Glance at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, and With One Hand Between Us, part of Performa 2011 in New York City. In December he mounted a new performance and installation, commissioned by The Power Plant in Toronto as part of the exhibition Coming After. Other solo shows include Scaramouche Gallery, NYC, and HQ, Brooklyn, in 2009, and fivesevendelle, Boston, in 2010; Pocket Utopia, Brooklyn, and University of Rochester, NY, in 2007. His work has been reviewed recently in Art Forum, artforum.com, TimeOut New York, White Hot, The Buffalo News, and Artslant; a major profile appeared in Modern Painters in April 2009. Group shows include exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park, the Islip Art Museum, Y Gallery, and PS122, all in New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee, University of Wolverhampton, England, and Exile Gallery, Berlin.
About the Curator
Andrew Suggs is the Executive Director of Vox Populi, and a curator and writer. Recent projects include Kick in the Eye at Vox Populi (Philadelphia, PA) in 2011 and an upcoming convening of artist-run spaces in collaboration with Cleopatra’s (Brooklyn). He participated in a 2010 curatorial Intensive with Independent Curators International and has contributed texts to numerous exhibition catalogs and Phonebook: Directory of Independent Art Projects & Spaces. He received an AB cum laude from Harvard University.